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 and entertaining conversations about sexual health, dating , relationships, love, and pleasure.

Watch Videos

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

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

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 a new program 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. In 2014 he completed Options For Sexual Health’s Certified Sexual Health Educator Program. 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.

Kelsey Savage

Kelsey Savage is an Options for Sexual Health Certified Sexual Health Educator. Holding a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, Kelsey bears witness every day to the power of words, language, and the creative expression of feelings and thoughts across the many fields she works in. She especially loves witnessing the ways folks of all genders, backgrounds and abilities use RealTalk Pizza Parties to express and engage with their feelings and hopes around sex, relationships, dating and love– often for the first time. When she’s not facilitating Pizza Parties for RealTalk, Kelsey also manages a sexual health clinic for Options for Sexual Health, and teaches sexual health classes across the Lower Mainland.

More information on Kelsey can be found at

See Together Media

Rheanna and Brandon are two film and media gurus that aim 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

Fran Heng

Francis (or Fran) is a “Made-in-Singapore” human settler who landed on the unceded Coast Salish Territories in 2001. They are an artist that works with communities, an intersectional facilitator, a relational activist, a community connector, a Theatre of the Oppressed facilitator, and a sexual health educator. As a non-binary queer, Fran cares deeply about the quality of our sexual lives as inter-connected individuals and as a society; specifically within the queer community. Besides Real Talk, Fran also co-works with individuals with diverse abilities to enrich their sense of gender identities, relationships and sexuality. A fun thing to know about Fran is that there was a show back in the days called “Francis the Talking Mule”. Fran absolutely loves mules, and wants to be friends with mules and donkeys.