Stephanie Dudek | Peer Health Exchange

As an educator with PHE, Peer Health Exchange, I have the privilege to spend an hour a week with a classroom of DC high school students teaching and discussing with them various topics related to their health. We discuss sex, alcohol, mental health and various resources for them when dealing with these issues in their life. A huge part of our curriculum and approach is giving these students the information and skills to make their own healthy decisions.

In one of our workshops we show them a video about health clinics as a resource for various health conditions. After the video we have our students form groups and read from a list of scenarios of different teenagers and their reasons for wanting to go to a health center. They then create a short script about how their scenario would create an appointment, the information they might need, the services they might have when they go, and then what the appointment would be like. This workshop occurs after we go over other skills in different workshops about making appointments and the information you may need and what different services are provided at health clinics. When we as educators are watching our students write their scripts and go through all the steps and are able to, it makes us happy and fulfilled. It is the reason that we do this. Being able to give the students this information and give them the tools and resources and then see them being able to act it out is priceless.

Another part of this workshop is informing the class about the closest clinic to their school. When I was teaching this workshop some of my students already were aware of the closest clinic to their school. This is great news because it means that these young individuals are already out there looking for health resources when they need them. One of the schools that we teach at has an in-school clinic. Since PHE has started giving tours of the clinic and discussing how to make appointments and the services offered, there has been a 33% increase in appointments made at this in-school clinic. Of those 33%, there has been 100% follow through in their appointments. These are the moments that we teach for. The moments when we know we have been making a difference in getting these students the information and access to the resources they need to make safe and healthy decisions the rest of their lives.

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