New this year: Peer 2 Peer

Allyson Edge |Staff Writer

The beginning of the 2019 Fall semester marks the inaugural year of a new program on campus, the Certified Peer Health Educator Program, also referred to as Peer 2 Peer.

The Hampton University Health Center launched this program with the objective to educate, support and promote balance of well-being at Hampton University. Additionally, the program aims to create a safe environment for the members of our community through the connection of peers. Even though there is a Certified Health Education Specialist available on campus, research suggests that peer-driven interventions tend to be more effective and beneficial to college-age students.

Each spring, the Health Center will recruit as many as 10 undergraduate students who are classified as sophomores, juniors or seniors. This upcoming spring, the program will seek students who have health-related majors, diverse backgrounds and are involved in other organizations on campus. Sophomore and current Peer Health Educator Sydney Jamison described how she was accepted into the program.

“I decided to join because I saw this organization as a platform to improve the overall health of the campus,” Jamison said. “I applied by sending in my resume and recommendation letters. I was later brought in for an interview, and a few weeks later, I received a congratulatory email.”

Kelsi Fitzgerald, a member of the program, explained her interest and decision to become a Peer Health Educator. She was interested in bringing “awareness to the entire campus of the amazing resources here in the health center as well as around the campus.” Fitzgerald also expressed her desire to serve as a source of support within the community, “so the students know that if they need help, there is always someone here to help them.”

Peer Health Educators are responsible for educating students on healthy choices and serving as a reliable confidant for their peers. They are trained in focusing on the topics of safe sex practices, alcohol awareness,

tobacco/nicotine awareness, self-care, nutrition and exercise, and time management. Not only will this opportunity allow students to grow personally, but they are also able to develop from a professional standpoint and gain experience for their potential careers.

In September, the newly certified Peer Health Educators completed an eight-hour training session and passed the exam to become a Certified Peer Health Educator through the National Association of Student Personnel Administration (NASPA). The training session focused on crucial elements such as how to effect change, effective listening skills, confidentiality,

responding to crisis and bystander intervention. Peer Health Educators also are equipped to provide information about the resources available on campus for a variety of student affairs. While they are not authorized to diagnose or treat illnesses, they are able to provide a significant network of support on campus.

To take advantage of this useful resource, which is now available on campus, all members of the Hampton University community should be sure to attend the events scheduled during Peer to Peer Week: Live Your Truth from Nov. 17 to 23. There will be discussions about various health topics and an opportunity to ask any questions that may arise.

Be sure to follow @HamptonU_PHE on Instagram for updates on events and keep an eye out for the Peer Health Educator application in the spring.

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