Needle Exchange Programs By: Sherilyn Drexler

As the opiate epidemic in the United States grows larger and larger, the commonality of blood-borne illnesses is also growing at an alarming rate. Through the practices of reusing and sharing needles and other injection devices, addicts are at high risk of illnesses. These illnesses include HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B, all which can have lasting effects on health, and even death, if left untreated. Needle exchange programs, when effective, are beneficial to addicts in that they prevent the spread of disease through needles, as well as provide other resources for support in managing and ultimately overcoming the addiction.

Needle exchange programs provide addicts with the access to sterile needles and syringes, where otherwise they would potentially be using old or unclean ones, or sharing used needles between other users. Both of these common practices carry high risk of spreading disease, and having affordable access to sterile needles reduces the transmission of HIV and other blood borne illnesses. This affordable access provided by needle exchange programs is extremely important an addict’s health during and after addiction. Needle exchange programs may set up in clinics or other areas during different times of the week. And for those who are not able to reach those facilities, facilitators of the program may drive around heroin-prevalent areas in a van or RV, handing out supplies and resources. Alex Drexler, a former heroin user who utilized needle exchange programs, says that this service was beneficial to him during the time he was using heroin. Drexler explains that people who use the program “bring used needles and get the same amount of fresh needles…they also offer clean instruments to use and cook, and it’s a great public health service to prevent the spread of disease”.

Needle exchange programs often do more for addicts than just exchange needles. Aaron Head, Director of New Foundations, a halfway house organization in in Cincinnati, states that “In Cincinnati, they have a mobile home they drive around in in order to reach people in the area that may need assistance”. Head also makes a point that this is not the only service they provide, “They practice harm reduction, trying to keep down the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV down, and also give people resources for recovery and various other things”. These additional resources are important because they teach an addict how to prevent infection in the first place, as well as aiding them with help and means for getting off drugs. With all that these programs do to help combat the opiate epidemic, there is unfortunately very little federal funding given to these programs, in part due to the stigmas attached to them on the surface level.

Common arguments against needle exchange programs center around they notion that they enable the drug user by providing them with accessible tools to use these drugs causing them harm. The reality is that this notion is not backed up by the evidence. Multiple studies have proved that needle exchange programs generally reduced the spread of HIV without increasing drug use. The most notable of these occurred in 2016, where the CDC reviewed 15 studies over decades of research, concluding that the programs were in fact beneficial towards a decrease in blood-borne illnesses, and drug use didn’t necessarily increase or decrease in direct relation to them (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

Needle exchange programs are an extremely beneficial resource to communities affected by heroin addiction and the blood-borne illnesses like Hepatitis C and HIV, that are commonly associated with drug users who often are forced to share needles in order to inject. Allowing more implementation of these programs and federal funding to do so will ensure that these programs are able to be put into place and will become more common mainly in cities that are most affected by it. This way addicts will be able to stay free of disease while trying to get clean, have access to the resources to be able to do so, and will be able to be healthy in life after addiction.

Works Cited

“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Apr. 2017, www.cdc.gov/.

Head, Aaron. Personal Interview. 12 November 2017.

Drexler, Alex. Personal Interview. 15 November 2017.

Women in Sports By: Abby Paff

Female athletes are all over the world today, and children often look up to them and aspire to be as good as them in the future. The practice of sports today provides women with a healthy lifestyle, skills in leadership, as well as managing different situations in today’s society.   Men’s sports are given more attention and praise; leaving women’s sports to not receive as much recognition and credit as they deserve. Every athlete deserves to be treated the same and given respect from everyone. Some people may think that women’s sports are just as exciting as men’s sports, and it is unfair the amount of credit that females do not receive. Serval female athletes such as Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Serena Williams, and Hayley Wickenheiser have all made a huge difference in women’s sports. Female athletes often feel discriminated against by men; however, they have made significant contributions in sports over the years.

There are many female athletes who have impacted and contributed to women’s sports today. Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Serena Williams, and Hayley Wickenheiser are very successful athletes, some being Olympic medalists and some being the best players in their sport. One significant female athlete is Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who runs track and field, and has competed in four Olympic Games for the United States from 1984 to 1996. She has earned a considerable amount of medals in both women’s heptathlon and women’s long jump, totaling three gold, one silver, and two bronze medals. Another significant female athlete is Serena Williams, who is a famous tennis player, considered by many to be the best tennis player of all time. She was ranked number 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association for the first time on July 8, 2002, and she has achieved this ranking six times since then. Also in 2013, she became the oldest number 1 player in WTA history. The final significant female athlete is Hayley Wickenheiser, who is a female hockey player and considered one of the best in the world today. She believes that doing drills and training hard is what made her an outstanding player. She is known as a cooperative team player and an outstanding role model for girls. Not only have all of these females became great athletes, they are very successful at being positive leaders and role models for children all over the world today.

Women in sports often do not receive as much credit and recognition as they deserve. Male sports tend to receive more attention than women’s sports. Wendy Smith, athletic director at Seton High School, played volleyball and basketball at Seton from 1986 to 1990 and to continued her volleyball career in college. Smith says, “I would just support each other and be true to yourself and your team and have faith in your abilities and your teammates abilities and work to the best of your potential.” Smith believes that if female athletes encourage each other and work hard they will have a better chance at success. One example that shows female sports being discriminated against by males is, when Smith won a State Volleyball Championship in 1988 for Seton, the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer had Elder High School winning a Football playoff game and Seton Volleyball was in the back of the newspaper with a tiny article. Smith exclaims, “At Mount St. Joseph University around 1993, they were trying to add more male sports such as wrestling and football. At the time, there was a female Athletic Director, and the college board felt as if they needed a male leader, so Mount St. Joseph University fired the female Athletic Director and hired a male one, which turned into a huge controversy.” Smith explained well, yet another example of female sports being discriminated against by males. Head Basketball Coach for Elder High School, Joe Schoenfeld, says, “Cincinnati in particular seems to really value high school sports of all kinds more than most cities. The GCL and GGCL are each widely known as being one of the top leagues in the state and country. While both are outstanding leagues, I think male sports generally do receive more attention. Certainly, the atmosphere at a Seton-Mercy volleyball match is just as good as an Elder-St. X basketball game. So I don’t think it is an atmosphere or level of play issue; I think it is a cultural thing.” Schoenfeld believes that women’s sports are an encouraging way to learn more about yourself and others. The characteristics that make a person successful in sports, carry over to help female athletes become successful in school and life.

Women’s sports make females today feel very empowered and strong. Men’s sports are given so much credit and praise, giving women’s sports less recognition and credit then they deserve. Female athletes such as Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Serena Williams, and Hayley Wickenheiser have all made a significant difference in women’s sports over the years. It has been made clear that discrimination is a cultural issue in today’s society, and hopefully one day women will receive the attention they deserve in sports. Female athletes often feel very discriminated against by men; however, they have made significant contributions in sports over the years.

Inside Look into All-Girl Schools By: Rylee Jung

What comes to mind when you think about an all-girl school? Plaid skirts, starchy uniforms, and snobby rich girls or weird geniuses? A place where girls are surrounded by one another in a campus that is teeming with drama and the hardest class is learning how to perfect a home cooked meal? These stereotypes could not be more wrong. All-girl schools are filled with your average teenage girl who was looking for a different approach to their education. All-girl schools are focused on the self-empowerment and confidence of their students. It creates an environment with many unique benefits for its students and surrounds them in a loving place with a whole sisterhood and years of memories to be cherished forever. All-girl schools create a supportive and academically rigorous environment that benefits every student that walks through its doors.

There are many stereotypes that surround all-girl schools. Students of these all-girl schools are not unaware of the critique others may have of our unique environment. Schools are viewed as extremely restrictive, ruled by men-hating feminists, offering only easy classes, and absolutely drowning in gossip and drama. However, the reality of these schools are radically different. Some students who were not a part of the private school system argue that uniforms suppress individuality and take away the students’ right to express themselves. However, Megan Igel, Seton High School alum of the class of 2015 remembers, “I never felt stifled by our uniform. In fact, my uniform was one of my favorite parts about going to an all-girl school.” Igel even adds that “I still felt I had lots of opportunities to express myself through my personal style.” These rules that seem “restrictive” to students actually create a level ground among peers and allows the focus to be on school and not looking a certain way. Most all-girl school alums look back on their uniforms fondly and cherish the skirts they once dawned daily. Another stereotype that all-girl schools have about them is being full of men hating feminists. All-girl schools often fall into the negative stereotypes that come along with feminism. Craig Maliborski, principal of St. Ursula Academy, explains, “All-girl schools should be feminist institutions and should be unapologetic in saying so.” However, the feminism all-girl schools promote is the kind that “celebrates the gifts and talents of women, and strives for these things to be recognized equally in our society” (Maliborski) instead of simply men hate. In this unequal and stereotypical view, somehow all-girl schools are deemed easier or not as academically challenging as other institutions. They are referred to as “daycares” or other academically lesser environments. Tricia McHale, a student at Seton High School class of 2018, discusses how, “To some, all-girl schools serve as norming more than a buffer time for young women to prepare for their expected role as a mother or caregiver.” This stereotype is derived from the idea that all-girl schools are just modern versions of a “finishing school” in which girls learn skills like proper manners, table etiquette, and how to take care of a home. This is also where the idea that all-girl schools are not true, academic institutions. Karen White, principal of Seton High School, addresses the stereotype that states, “the work is somehow easier in an all-female setting rather than a co-ed setting.” However, the students and principals of these all-girl schools say otherwise. White explains how she sees her students fighting these stereotypes by, “their involvement in traditionally male classes/organization such as IT, STEAM, engineering, and other academically challenging classes.” McHale reflects on her experience by saying, “I witness such dedication put into the subjects that girls care about. Even when their hard work is belittled, I know that my classmates want to prove their worth as a person and a student.” The final stereotype usually said about all-girl schools is the overwhelming amount of drama a school of over five hundred girls could produce. Emma Vansteenkistie, Mount Notre Dame alum from the class of 2014, discusses how, “People who have never been to an all-girl school think of it as a place full of drama and boy phobia.” She follows this common stereotype by assuring that “These things couldn’t be further from the truth. Going to an all-girl school, there was very little drama”. Current Mount Notre Dame student, senior Mary Angela Guye, closely follows this point saying, “People assume there would be a lot more drama, but from what I have experiences there is so much less drama!! All drama tends to stay out of school.”

 

Many principals, students, and alums of these all-girl schools claim that they are strong person they are today because of their experience at an all-girl school. All-girl schools create a unique environment in which girls have a place that encourages them to be strong leaders, have confidence in who they are, focus on themselves and their passions, and receive special support from an entire sisterhood of students and staff. High school is a place where adolescents are prepared to be the next driving force in society. Students must learn what interests them and what they are passionate about. They also must learn how to take on leadership roles that could eventually lead to high impactful jobs. At all-girl schools, “girls are the leaders of every club, team, and organization” (Maliborski). This environment of girl empowerment is vital for girls to become strong leaders in adult society. Christine Brookbank, St. Ursula Academy alum and current teacher at Seton High School, discusses how all-girl schools, “propels young women into leadership roles, which is still desperately needed in corporations and government.” Brookbank remembers that “In college I also found myself being fearless – asking questions in class and pursuing leadership opportunities on campus – because we were always encouraged to lead in our high school environment.” This environment of powerful women boosts the confidence of the whole student body. White comments that “being in an all-girl school allows students to be comfortable in their own skins”. One way Seton High School promotes self-confidence is through its positivity club, StrongHer. White explains that through StrongHer, “students can connect with one another and spread positive messages to each other and our school community.” Seton student, Tricia McHale, adds that “StrongHer sets an impeccable example of supporting girls, with positive messages and empowering activates led for students.” Another way that all-girl schools boost self-confidence is through a lack of distractions. Mount Notre Dame alum, Emma Vansteenkiste explains, “Girls tend to act differently when they are around guys and having an environment with none of those distractions allows girls to be their true self…this gives girls a strong self-awareness, which gives girls a high self-esteem…going to an all-girl school gave me a really high self-esteem because I was confident of who I was and who I still am now.” This unique confidence is built upon the focus being on the students. Alums and current students reflect on this and agree that the uniforms, staff attention, and personal growth were all key parts of their confidence and self-development. Both Seton alum, Megan Igel, and current Seton student, Tricia McHale, agree that uniforms created a level playing field among students. Megan Igel explains that “It was so nice to not thin ‘what am I going to wear?’ or ‘who do I need to impress today?’…When I was at school, I could focus on what was really important – learning.” Tricia McHale comments, “Though wearing a uniform can be frustrating at times, all are equalized…the focus is placed on learning, which enables girls to know that they are more than just their appearances.” Therefore, those pesky dress codes do have a method behind the seemingly restrictive madness. In an all-girl school, the focus of the staff is fully on the student. Current Mount Notre Dame student, Mary Guye, comments that “I think that the teachers and students alike can be more upfront and real on what they are saying.” This open speech results in students finding, “good mentors in my [their] teachers” (Guye). This is followed closely by Megan Igel who remembers, “the close bond I had with many of my teachers. They served as really great role models.” All-girl schools in general just have this open environment in which girls can truly grow. Emma Vansteenkiste explains, “Going to an all-girl high school, I was able to focus on just being me and not worry about how I looked or saying something embarrassing. Not worrying about those little things gave me a really strong sense of self.” Finally, all-girl high schools have a special environment in which a student has the full support of the staff as well as a loving sisterhood. Megan Igel identifies that “I knew I could feel free to go out on a limb or say whatever I was thinking because my Seton sisters would have my back.” This support carries on with the students and causes them to be more confident and empowered outside of school (Igel). Tricia McHale comments that all-girl schools have, “such a high level of school pride and enthusiasm for the community surrounding the students…such a caring world is developed at all-girl schools, with each girl looking out for another and helping them to succeed.”

 

Not only do all-girl schools encourage self-empowerment and self-confidence, but they have many other benefits as well! All-girl schools create a strong learning environment, encourage girls to find their passion, and give them a strong faith foundation. As alums go to college, they appreciate the rigorous coursework they once dreaded saying, “I received such a strong education…and I am definitely still benefitting from that strong foundation as a college student” (Igel). All-girl schools also encourage their students to find what they are passionate about. White notes that the students, “encourage one another to find their passion and talents and develop them.” This encouragement leads to students like Tricia McHale seeing her classmates truly shine every day. McHale explains, “Each and every day I walk through the halls, I witness such a dedication put into the subjects that girls care about.” This encouragement goes beyond the walls of high school as Brookbank, comments that “Being in an all-female environment during those formative years of my life inspired me to pursue my passions”. Another unique benefit that all-girl schools has is the formation of a strong faith. Megan Igel recalls some of her favorite high school memories are days when, “we attended Mass, had prayer services, or Eucharistic Adoration together. It was incredible to get to share in those moments of faith with my classmates”. Faith is such a personal thing that students at all-girl schools get to share in a special way.

 

Another unique part of attending an all-girl school are the special traditions These intangible staples of all-girl education are as meaningful to students and alums as the physical reminders such as uniform skirts and yearbooks. These traditions are unique to every girl in every different school. Seton alum Megan Igel cherishes, “class retreats, especially Kairos. These days reflecting with my fellow students were really special to me.” These class retreats are meant to strength the bond between fellow students in an intense and spiritual way. Mount Notre Dame students have different traditions. Alum Emma Vansteenkiste fondly recalls the Senior Dance Marathon. This was an event that the seniors stayed up all night together to prepare a ten-minute-long dance routine to perform in front of the school the next day. She remembers, “When I was finally a senior and got to perform with all my classmates in front of the entire school it was so much fun because it was something we were all looking forward to since we were freshman.” Another memory Emma has is the, “Friday pasta bar…there was never any shame for getting a plate full of carbs.” Current MND senior Mary Guye has a different favored tradition. Guye explains, “We do a cheer at the end of each assembly…at pep rallies and sports games to whatever team is playing. It’s just something special that you get to participate in all 3 years and then get to be the center of it senior year.” Another favorite tradition comes from Brookbank who recalls, “singing our school song…at every school mass. All of the students would link shoulder to shoulder and wave back and forth belting the lyrics.” Little events and traditions that are unique to one’s school and community of sisters spans over many generations and thousands of girls who are bonded by their shared experience at their all-girl school.

 

Attending an all-girl school is a unique experience that greatly defies the stereotypes about them. The realities of these schools are their core values of instilling self-empowerment and self-confidence in their female students. They provide other benefits such as close staff relationships and strong faith communities. They give their students four years-worth of memories and traditions that they won’t soon forget.