Real Talk is…

An affirmation that all people have a sexuality

Adults with cognitive disabilities are experiencing their own sexuality, but may not be getting information or acknowledgement about this experience.

Every human being – whether sexually active or not – has a sexuality. It’s part of being human. Sexuality can bring connection, isolation, joy, trauma, pleasure, guilt, excitement… often it’s a combination of things.

What if we affirmed this experience instead of avoiding the subject?

A conversation about dating, love, relationships and sex

Lots of adults with cognitive disabilities are interested in having romantic and sexual relationships, but it’s rare that these relationships actually happen.

Within certain age groups, adults with cognitive disabilities have higher rates of sexually transmitted infections than the general population. At any age, adults with cognitive disabilities are at greater risk of sexual abuse than the general population.

Open communication about sex and relationships improves interpersonal skills, increases the chances of positive romantic relationships, and reduces the risk of STIs and sexual abuse.

Sexualized imagery is prevalent in our society, but real talk about sexuality is often absent. What if we started talking?

A celebration of the sexuality of adults with cognitive disabilities.

Often the subject of sexuality arises for adults with cognitive disabilities because a problem occurs – perhaps someone is acting in ways that bother people, or perhaps abuse has happened. What message are we sending by waiting until a problem arises before talking to people with cognitive disabilities about sexuality?

Often the subject of sexuality is taught in a classroom like math. What kinds of experiences have people with cognitive disabilities typically had in classrooms?

What if we changed the script? The actors? The setting?

What if talking about sexuality was as natural as talking about fitness, nutrition, friendship, fashion, or music?

What if it was framed as a celebration?

What We Do

We shoot and share videos where people have frank, entertaining conversations about sexual health, dating , relationships, love, and pleasure.

Watch Videos

We host events led by a Certified Sexual Health Educator where people gather over a casual meal to watch these videos and have conversations about their own experiences.

Attend an Event

We partner with other initiatives that are focused on creating social spaces where people with cognitive disabilities can meet and mingle.

See Resources

In 2015, Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion, posAbilities, and Kinsight, with mentorship from InWithForward spent several months researching how people with cognitive disabilities were experiencing sexuality and / or relationships. This research led to the design of some new ways to deliver sexual health and relationship education. In September 2017, the Public Health Agency of Canada began funding these agencies to deliver this new program – Real Talk – to people with cognitive disabilities in the Lower Mainland.

Meet the Team

John Woods

John Woods has worked in the community living sector since 1992, and with Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion since 1997. He is an Options for Sexual Health Certified Sexual Health Educator. John currently works managing Real Talk, and with Options for Sexual Health in their Clinical Services department. John holds a BA from University of Manitoba. In his free time he loves composing music for his rock band, and for original musical theatre shows.

dr. Sarah Schulman

As a sociologist, Sarah is fascinated by what makes individuals, families, and policymakers tick. She’s worked with federal, regional, and local governments in 6 countries to shift how policies are made and measured. She holds a Doctorate in Social Policy from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and a Masters of Education from Stanford University. In 2015, Sarah became a Metcalf Foundation Innovation Fellow. Fun facts: Sarah was once a sting agent. And she’s a mediocre tap dancer.

Dee Stacey

Dee is a Sexual Health Educator with over 4 years’ experience as a Youth Care Counsellor at an alternate high school in Vancouver. Dee holds a BA in Psychology and is a graduate of the Options for Sexual Health Sexual Health Educator Certification program. Dee is passionate about empowering people through education that is inclusive, relatable and free of judgment.

More information on Dee can be found at

Kelsey Savage

Since beginning her training with Options for Sexual Health in 2014, Kelsey has become a Certified Sexual Health Educator, a Clinic Coordinator, and a Real Talk Sexual Health Outreach Facilitator. Thanks to her work in the field of sexual health,  she has witnessed the positive impact that non-judgmental, sex-positive resources can have in the lives of folks of all ages, genders, races, and abilities across Vancouver. She facilitate Real Talk Pizza Parties, Tough Cookies events, and also helps train incoming Real Talk Facilitators.

See Together Media

Rheanna and Brandon are two film and media gurus that create video and social media marketing campaigns for social enterprises, non-profits and businesses with purpose. Their works aims to inspire people to connect with what is truly important to them.

See their work