Peer health education through the eyes of Peer Health Educators Reply

Photos by Natalie Kfoury

Natalie Kfoury – Co-Editor-in-Chief

Kayli Hertel walked into her first meeting of the Peer Health Educators and was pleased to find the atmosphere relaxed, accommodating, and friendly. Hertel, a sophomore history major, decided to join the group this semester to become more educated and to educate others. Hertel is one of 10 current Peer Health Educators, according to advisor Kate McCarthy, who work to raise awareness at Lasell on themes such as alcohol and drug awareness, healthy relationships, sexual health, mental health, and sexual and domestic assault awareness.

“What Peer Health is really all about is talking about the hard stuff and that is important for everyone to be exposed to,” said Hertel.

Peer Health Educators work with the Health Education office to act as the bridge between students and the college’s counseling center. To achieve their goals, they host tables outside Valentine Dining Hall, have events in Case House, visit dorm buildings, and sponsor specific events such as the Vagina Monologues, according to Jenna Zamary, a member.

“Peer health is a great opportunity to learn and grow personally. Many students in peer health comment on how much they have learned and how good it feels to reach out to their peers and be a resource for their peers,” said McCarthy, who is a health educator and counselor at Lasell in addition to her advising role.

Zamary, a senior education major, has been a Peer Health Educator since the second semester of her freshman year. She has played many roles within the organization, such as directing the Vagina Monologues for three years and acting in the show all four years of her time at Lasell.

“The great thing about Peer Health is we do not have any type of officers, which gives everyone the opportunity to do different things for every event,” said Zamary. “We all bring so much to the group and contribute in many different ways.”

Zamary said being a Peer Health Educator has allowed her to explore more health-related topics than her classes typically cover.

“This is a great organization because we are learning as students, but also educating others. It is truly amazing to interact with so many different people at Lasell and the work we put in is so rewarding,” said Zamary. “I also have met so many new people and heard stories that forever changed my life.”

This semester, the group looks to continue some of their popular events, such as the Vagina Monologues (held on February 20 and 22), and to add new projects. According to McCarthy, the group is planning on campaigns and events such as visits from therapy dogs, eating disorder awareness and how to help a friend if you think he or she is suffering from one, body image, and a men’s health and masculinity awareness.

McCarthy said her goals for the group are to provide valuable training for the Peer Health Educators in order to prepare them to be quality resources for their peers and continuing to raise awareness on campus about various topics.

Despite the positive aspects of the organization, the Peer Health Educators have experienced setbacks. Zamary believes students can feel uncomfortable talking about the subjects the group brings awareness to at times. This can cause students from not attending events. She said it’s important for students to know Peer Health Educators are just like them and are just trying to create a safe space at Lasell. Freshman member Carly Fellion agrees.

“We’re not trying to tell students here at Lasell to not drink, have sex, etc., but we’re here to raise awareness about things that do and can happen. We’re the people you can talk to if you feel that you have been assaulted and you aren’t exactly comfortable with telling an adult figure,” said Fellion, an exercise science major.

Peer Health Educators currently meet on Thursdays at 4:00 p.m. in Case House. This meeting time changes each semester based on members’ schedules. They are currently accepting applications for new Peer Health Educators. For more information email Kate McCarthy at KMcCarthy@Lasell.edu. The group is also present on Facebook and Twitter.

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