Power Player December 2018

Blog

Power Player December 2018

by Maggi LeDuc
December 10, 2018
A headshot of Schuster with a quote, "Our most basic need is to feel connected and loved and all people deserve to experience this in all aspects of their lives."

Here at Power to Decide, we are committed to uplifting the many individuals who are on the ground doing the work that matters most. Each month we highlight an individual or organization who is championing the effort to give young people the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child. Check out this month's Power Player profile.

Elise Schuster

Co-Founder, okayso

What work have you done to ensure that young people have access to high-quality sexual health information or high-quality contraceptive services so that they can decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child?

Young people often turn to Google when they have questions about sexual health, but they’re also savvy enough to know that can't always trust the results they get. okayso is an app that gives users access to experts they can trust who provide accurate, personalized answers, information, and support. Through okayso, we're able to talk with users to clarify exactly what's happening and give them the most accurate response. We're also able to follow up and see how they're doing later on. It's like having your very own health educator in your pocket, available at all times. 

How did you get started in your field? What is your driving force? 

I grew up in a conservative family in the Midwest and I wasn't allowed to take sex education in high school. I had to find out everything for myself. We live in a world where all the shame, stigma, and misinformation associate with sexual health can cause people to live their entire lives thinking they're broken or not good enough. My goal is to see an entire generation of young people grow up knowing about consent, communication, safety, and pleasure - I think that has the power to change the world. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to effect change in the field that you currently work in? 

All of us are trying to be "seen" in some way. Providing information is great but the more we can connect with the fears, insecurities and self-beliefs that are motivating people's questions, the more effective we will be. Some questions we receive are straightforward, but most are really fears about not being normal or whether we're worthy of love or other deeply human insecurities. Without addressing these underlying issues, true behavior change is almost impossible. 

Why should someone care about ensuring that all people—regardless of who they are or where they live—have access to the information and contraception they need to live their best life story?   

During my years in this field I've talked with thousands of people about sexuality. Most of them were convinced there was something wrong with them. All of them felt alone. Our most basic human need is to feel connected and loved and all people deserve to experience this in all aspects of their lives. 

Is there a highlight of your work in conjunction with our organization that you’d like to share?   

We are the fortunate recipients of one of Power to Decide's Innovation Next grants. We are so grateful for Power to Decide's commitment to okayso's mission and love getting our users connected to Bedsider whenever they have questions about contraception!

*Responses have been edited for clarity