For high school educators, counselors, parents, youth leaders and current students:
Are you interested in promoting reproductive health and justice in your school and community? From discussions and trainings on teen pregnancy to dating violence, peer mentors will learn it all! WV FREE works with local high schools and community organizations to organize peer mentor groups to develop youth leadership and decision-making skills, promote healthy relationships and life choices, and create a safe space for discussing reproductive health and social justice.
Why peer programs?
Research suggests that people are more likely to hear and personalize messages, and thus to change their attitudes and behaviors, if they believe the messenger is similar to them and faces the same concerns and pressures. Numerous studies have demonstrated that their peers influence youth’s health behaviors—not only in regard to sexuality but also in regard to violence and substance use. Peer education draws on the credibility that young people have with their peers, leverages the power of role modeling, and provides flexibility in meeting the diverse needs of today’s youth. Peer education can support young people in developing positive group norms and in making healthy decisions about sex.[i]
[i] Advocates for Youth. Peer Education: Promoting Healthy Behaviors. http://advocatesforyouth.org/publications/444?task=view.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a Peer Mentor Program in Your Community
– Contact WV FREE for start-up information and help
– Consider the “Nuts ‘n’ Bolts”
Who: a list of young people to participate
- Have a “favorite” teacher or community leader talk to students about the importance of this group and some of the fun and meaningful activities they can get involved in.
- If possible, hang up flyers advertising the new group and how to sign up.
- Ask youth—“What do they want to do and learn?” Young people are stakeholders and should be a part of the planning process.
What: what topics will be covered during the meetings…abstinence, contraception, healthy relationships, emergency contraception etc. and what activities will be done…creating posters, hosting a table at a school fair etc.
- Email WV FREE for a sample outline of goals, methods & activities.
- Outline your goals, strategies, and basic plan for the mentor group.
- Set up a meeting with school, community, or church leaders to present the group.
Where: what venue will you use (high school, youth group, community organization, etc.)
- Which leaders are supportive of having a peer mentor group?
- Which group can sustain participation and has transportation options?
- Which group will be able to meet frequently with the same group of young people?
- Options could include: school club, school activity period, youth group, after-school program, church program, a community organization like Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, YWCA, 4H…etc.
When: the time and days you will meet
- Choose a time when young people are available (during an activity period at school, weekends, after-school etc.).
- Consider any difficulties that time period may present—especially transportation difficulties.
– Get Started!