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Peer Health Exchange
Peer Health Exchange
peerhealthexchange.org

Locations

San Francisco, CA, USA · Oakland, CA, USA

industry

Community and Lifestyle · Education · Government and Military · Health

Size

51-200 employees

Stage

Other

founded in

2003

History and Mission Peer Health Exchange’s mission is to give teenagers the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions. We do this by training college students to teach a comprehensive health curriculum in public high schools that lack health education. In 1999, six Yale undergraduates began teaching health workshops in New Haven public schools in order to fill the gap left by an underfunded, understaffed district health program. In 2003, the founding members of the group established Peer Health Exchange to replicate this successful program in other communities with unmet health education needs. Since then, we have trained more than 6,200 college student volunteers to deliver effective health education to over 76,000 public high school students in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. The Need PHE was founded to address a growing crisis: teens in the United States are navigating difficult decisions and exhibiting risky behaviors on a daily basis, many of which threaten their bodies, well-being, and futures. The CDC reported in the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey that, among high school students in the United States: • 1 in 5 teenagers is a binge-drinker. • 1 in 4 teenagers is overweight or obese. • 1 in 10 teenagers experiences violence in a relationship. • 1 in 4 teenagers consistently feels sad or hopeless We also know that of the nearly 50% of high schools students who have engaged in sexual intercourse, many are engaging in risky sexual activities: • 2 in 5 sexually-active teens did not use a condom the last time they had sex. • 3 in 10 teen girls become pregnant at least once by the age of 20. In recent years, public schools’ increased focus on academic testing, budget cuts and staffing shortages have exacerbated this crisis by eliminating health courses, leaving teens unprepared to protect themselves against these serious health risks. Yet research shows that struggles with substance abuse, unplanned pregnancy, and poor mental health have a direct and adverse impact on high school graduation rates, leaving teens more likely to drop out of school, enter the criminal justice system, and/or live in poverty. PHE’s Response PHE addresses this need with a 4-part program model: 1. PHE partners with public high schools that lack health education and where the majority of the students live at or below the poverty line. These students experience a disproportionate number of serious health risks ranging from teenage pregnancy to obesity. 2. PHE recruits, selects and rigorously trains college students to teach a year-long comprehensive health curriculum in these schools, consisting of 13 standardized health workshops on topics ranging from decision-making and communication skills to preventing substance abuse, teen pregnancy, relationship violence and sexual assault, to promoting nutrition, mental health, sexual health and healthy relationships. 3. PHE gives teenagers the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions. In the classroom, PHE high school students articulate their values and goals, learn basic, accurate health information, explore attitudes and perceptions of peer norms and peer pressure, analyze the influence of culture and the media on health, discuss barriers to healthy behaviors and strategies to overcome them, and identify and learn how to use the health resources in their communities. 4. PHE fosters a commitment to public service in college students, preparing them to be leaders committed to serving the needs of their communities.

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