Zak Kirwood ’12, a volunteer with Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, was awarded the 2009 Planned Parenthood Federation of America Young Volunteer of the Year award.
During his senior year at Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge, Conn., Kirwood volunteered for Planned Parenthood and was recruited for the organization’s Students Teaching About Responsible Sexuality (S.T.A.R.S.) peer education program. S.T.A.R.S. educators speak to members of their communities about sexual health issues.
“I would act as a resource in my high school – handing out condoms, and information about sexual health and rights,” Kirwood said during his award acceptance speech in Houston, Texas.
In attempt to reach the 1,600 students in his high school, Kirwood used his backpack as a advertisement, stuffing the side mesh pockets with condoms. He pinned an “ask” sign to the backpack.
“I handed out hundreds of condoms that year. People could come to me and ask me about anything,” he recalls.
Kirwood continues these efforts at Wesleyan, where he is a campus action intern. He works independently to plan events related to reproductive and sexual rights, and collaborates with other sexual health groups on campus.
“I’ve always been politically interested in a variety of causes. Planned Parenthood had a ton of opportunities for me to get involved,” he said.
A video of Kirwood’s acceptance speech is online below: