Hey there! Thanks for finding our very wordy page about this very exciting project! There’s more info below, but the TL/DR version is this:

    • Sex ed in schools gets a poor rating from many of the young people we’ve talked to
    • lots of people know that the more we know and can talk about sex, the better and more healthy it is
    • Lots of adults feel super awkward about talking to youth about sex/sexuality/sexual relationships
    • HeartWood wants youth and adults to be able have the important conversations that will make a difference
    • HeartWood knows youth are experts in what is most relevant and important for them
    • We’re recruiting youth to help us build a workshop series to help adults be more awesome and less awful/awkward about the talk(S!)



Loosen Up and Start Talking (L.U.S.T.) for “Grown Ups” is a program funded by the Nova Scotia Sexual Violence Strategy Prevention Innovation Fund and delivered by HeartWood Centre for Community Youth Development. Youth in Nova Scotia have been clear: if they are better able to understand and navigate their own sexual health and relationships, they and their relationships will be healthier and less subject to harm. Therefore, our goal is to support youth by helping adults engage in positive and more comfortable conversations with them about sexual health and relationships.

To this end, HeartWood is engaging youth and reviewing the literature about

      • What youth understand to be the most important topics related to sexual health and relationships in their own lives and those of their peers; and
      • the ways adults can be more awesome and less awkward in conversations with youth about sexual health and relationships



We’re recruiting a team of up to 12 awesome young people (ages 14-24) to help us identify what adults most need to know about talking to LGBTQ+ youth about sexual health and relationships: what is most important in content and approach from youths’ perspectives.

During our first program days (July 18&19), we’ll begin by setting the tone and creating an environment that supports everyone involved to bring their best self. We’ll then spend some time with community sexual health educators to provide some groundwork for our conversations. After that, we’ll engage in conversations and activities to help this youth team direct us in our development of a training program for adults.

After the first two-day session, our staff team will build on what we’ve heard from youth (as well as conversations with other community sexual health educators and experts and a literature review of promising practices) to draft a 2-part workshop series for adults. On August 2, we’ll bring our youth team back together to share our work and get their revisions and nudges towards an even more awesome and relevant program for the adults in their lives and the lives of their peers.

Members of the youth team will each receive $150 as an honorarium, recognizing their contributions to this work.


10 to 12 youth will be selected to participate in the LUST Youth Team Sessions on July 18, 19, and August 2. To apply, please respond to the following questions in any way you want to express yourself (essay, poetry, visual art, video, ect):

      • Are you between the ages of 14 and 24? (note that if you are under 16 we will need to have your parent/legal guardian’s consent for you to participate)
      • How do you identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community?
      • Why does starting conversations about sex, sexuality, and sexual health matter to you?
      • What would your perspective bring to the program?
      • Why should we choose you to be part of the program?
      • Can you commit to the workshop dates (July 18, 19, & August 2 from 10:30am – 4pm)?
      • Please provide an email address and phone number that you can be reached at.

If you would like to respond in a text-based format, please…

go to our google form to fill out the survey

If you would like to respond in a video, audio, or visual format, please email your responses to al@heartwood.ns.ca. For examples of ways you might answer some of the questions – check out the memes Al made in the “staff team” section below!



Al, Bria and Rena make up the HeartWood team working on LUST for “Grown Ups.” Learn more about them here!


Hello! My name is Al, I use they/them pronouns, and I am a hip and cool youth. (Do hip and cool youth call themselves hip and cool?). My job at HeartWood is Youth Adult Program Facilitator, but I am also a senior student at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where I take sociology and run the Pride Committee. I am so excited to be a part of the L.U.S.T program because I think that youth voices should be prioritized when trying to figure out how best to support youth. I want youth like me (and you?) to be able to talk about sexual health with the adults in our lives who give us guidance in other areas, because conversation is an important part of learning. I do a lot of research for this team, as well as collaborating with Rena and Bria to design and prepare for programming, and do some of the creative work (that’s my favourite part!). I will often be the one responding to your emails about the program, so feel free to talk to me about the program! If you don’t know how to start a conversation, ask me what my favourite boy band is. That’s one of my favourite things to talk about. Or you could ask me about L.U.S.T, too, that is also a good idea.

Meme 3

Hi, I am Bria, the project facilitator. I think L.U.S.T. is an awesome opportunity for young people to discuss their experiences and learn about safer sex, then identify together what works and what can be improved about sex education!

I am passionate about using art as a visual learning tool and that is my gift to this project: I will be live drawing and turning some of our time together into art! Encouraging other people to be honest and to see how brilliant they are is something I love doing. Basically, I am always trying to learn something new so feel free to share fun facts my way! Also, I am basically the #queenofsnacks.

Meme 1


Hey, I’m Rena! (they/them/their) I’ve been with HeartWood 5 years and this project is suuuuper exciting to me. When I was 16 I participated in a research program coordinated by what was then called “Planned Parenthood NS”, where they hired 22 youth from across the province to interview our peers and find out what was going on for youth when it came to accessing sexual health education and resources. The final report on the research was titled “JUST LUST (loosen up and start talking)” because youth more than 20 years ago were adamant that the adults in our lives needed to get sorted and start talking so we could take better care of ourselves. The story then was similar to the story now: and woah wow, that’s frustrating right? So, I’m committed to doing something about it by following the lead of young people today in figuring out HOW. And as you can see from the meme below (that’s me on the left), my enthusiasm and passion for this is one of the things I’m bringing to this project. I also happen to be responsible for coordinating all the details, which is actually pretty cool with me cause I nerd out big time figuring out how to make things work.

Rena LUST meme

(other things I love figuring out? Costumes and other crafts, camping, gardening and cooking – especially when I get to share them with others. I’m ALSO a late blooming drag performer who loves challenging notions of race and gender norms in whatever I do on stage!)