Executive Director Blog: The Future of Youth Sexual Health Education in Manitoba AKA What’s up with Teen Talk?

Nicole Chammartin is the Executive Director of Klinic and SERC. The work of these organizations focuses on health, community development, mental health, sexuality, equity, and social justice. In this blog Nicole writes about the important work of these organizations, leadership, and the larger world of community and sexual health.


For the last few months, I have been tying my blogs to information on the values-based leadership program I am currently taking through Royal Roads University. My last post in 2019  focused on changes at Klinic, our role in health transformation, and how it connects with our values, and I mentioned that I would be doing the same focusing on SERC in the new year.

Perhaps you may have already heard some of our news about upcoming Klinic and SERC changes through our official post or unofficial channels. I decided today to write my blog about our vision for the future of SERC Youth Education programming as it has been developing over the last couple of years, starting around the time we moved Teen Talk to SERC in 2017, and hopefully answer some of your questions.

Where do we start?  Many of you may be aware SERC turned a blushing 85 years young last year!  We celebrated this momentous occasion with quite a bash, and if you were there, you may have even seen a glimpse of our new campaign that we intend to launch shortly.  SERC received a generous legacy donation a couple of years ago that we have been using to jumpstart a development program to get us engaging Manitoba more around sexual health education.  In fact, SERC’s mission is simple: promoting sexual health through education; a big part of this has always been youth education.  We are not going anywhere, we are just getting started.

So, what about Teen Talk? In 2017, Klinic and SERC identified in strategic planning that this program was aligned much more closely to the mandate of SERC, and that there was potential value to eventually fully integrating the youth programming that was happening in both organizations.  We also identified inconsistencies between our staffing and services that would make full integration impossible without actually transferring the funding, staff, and management responsibilities.

We are excited to say that on April 1st this transition of funding will finally be complete and SERC will become the home for all youth workshops, including sexual health, harm reduction, consent, body image and related issues. SERC is growing. We will be adding 4 new full-time positions to our SERC Winnipeg office and 1.7 positions in the Brandon office from the Teen Talk funding allocation.

What is different is that Klinic, with support from SERC, made the decision to not pursue a new service purchase agreement with the Province of Manitoba for our separate Teen Talk North work.  We have recommended they pursue an agreement with an Indigenous-led organization, and we are optimistic our recommendation has been accepted and there will be an announcement regarding this in the coming weeks. An event is being planned with our community partner from this proposal for mid-March to engage the community in questions that they have regarding our hopes for this work.

Though this was a difficult decision due to the impact on staff, the Boards of Directors and leadership teams in both organizations supported this action under the recommendations of both organization’s Statements on Reconciliation (SERC and Klinic). We are actively working with the union to assist impacted staff to transition to employment opportunities, such as those mentioned above, and others available, in both organizations.

We also recognized that Brandon and the Westman region is one of the fastest growing service demand areas and have decided to move some of these positions out to our Brandon office so that they can grow and expand in their local and outlying community.

What is the future of youth sexual health education and SERC?  We think it’s big! The reality is Teen Talk has been operating since 1994, and a lot has changed for youth since then, and though our staff have been working hard to keep up with the times, we believe it’s time to pause and ask more questions about what youth (and their caregivers) want and need right now.

We know lots of you think we have been doing great work, and that’s awesome, we know some of you wish we could do more, or something different, we want to hear about that too.

Teen Talk was started with a very democratic vision; all of the resources are open source, online, anyone can access the material, the goal was always that eventually more of the workshops would be done by service providers. We are interested in your feedback on that too.

Our hope is that as we wrap up our workshop commitments for this spring and complete the staffing of our new expanded SERC team, our next step will be to reach out to our communities and stakeholders and learn more about what you would like to see, as well as share more about our service delivery model moving forward.

If you want to ensure you are on the list please sign up for our SERC E-News and/or email info@serc.mb.ca.  We hope to be reaching out to start these discussions between April and June of this year.

We look forward to working with all of you and our new expanded SERC team as we grow from our strong histories into our new chapter.