Creating change on campus
When thinking about a peer health education program, you may ask yourself, “What is a peer?” or “Why should the University of Idaho have peer educators?”
It is proven that people are more receptive to health information when it comes from a peer, which is anyone you would consider to be the same “status” as yourself.
This can range from a classmate, friend or a friendly face seen around campus. College is an exciting time in our lives. We are able to experience new things and have the ability to pursue our dreams, but with new experiences can come new questions. Questions about sexual health, nutrition, sleep, tobacco, drugs and alcohol or overall well-being.
When it comes to these questions or concerns, it is often easier to ask a peer rather than someone who is older than you or a professor. This is where the importance of peer educators comes into play.
Two years ago, a small student group from the Movement Sciences department had a vision of creating a program with a health educator at UI. The idea consisted of students promoting healthy lifestyle choices on campus, acting as a resource for the student community and creating change by not only being leaders, but also active bystanders.
According to The BACCHUS Network, a collegiate peer education initiative, the five roles of a peer educator are a friend, educator, activist, role model and team member.
When you think of a peer educator, it is important to think of a person who is always willing to listen with an open-mind and who is knowledgeable of resources around the campus or community. Part of what makes being a peer educator empowering is being an active bystander who works toward creating positive changes on campus.
Not only is being a peer educator rewarding, it is just plain fun. As peer educators, it is our role to build relationships with students on campus with an exciting educational twist.
This can range from monthly Health Huts, planning a Sex Trivia event, Safe Spring Break Fair, providing the “Bear” essentials for safer sex and plenty more. Our goal is to collide education and enjoyment into all we do.
UI offers a Peer Health Education course for all students. The class offers students from all majors the opportunity to create change on campus and help fellow students live happy and healthy lifestyles. This semester, 20 students became certified peer health educators through the BACCHUS Network certification course, and are ready to help with all of your health needs. Being a peer health educator can lead to many other opportunities as well.
This year, three peer health educators have the chance to attend The BACCHUS Network Regional Conference April 16-18 in Denver, Colorado. This is an incredible opportunity for peer educators to connect with students from other universities and gain understanding of how our program at UI can even further develop as a program to provide the best health education on our campus.
Amy Monroe is a peer health educator.
She can be reached at email@example.com