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Peer Education group teaches through interaction

April 3, 1997

By Melissa Harlow

Lariat Reporter

Eating disorders are far from simple matters, said Kay Hankamer, a peer educator, in a recent presentation at the University on eating disorders.

'Aside from the pressure of society promoting beauty and thinness comes the calling within that sends mixed messages,' said Hankamer.

Peer Education is a group of students who are trained to educate fellow University students and the community of Waco.

An average Peer Education class enrolls 35 to 40 students, and 10 to 15 of those students are active informists, Melody Pedram, a health and human performance graduate student, said.

The group educates students and the community on a variety of health behaviors and decisions which affect their lives and those around them. Such topics include substance abuse, acquaintance rape, eating disorders, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and the newest addition, stress and stress management.

Each semester, peer educators are scheduled by professors, high school teachers and other community resources to give informative presentations on these topics, all of which are open for questions and student responses.

Peer Education presentations offer the latest statistics, available resources and other information. Several students have sat in on discussions, noting peer educators challenge their audience to look within themselves and evaluate their belief system.

Educators approach their audience through an interactive presentation style, giving participants the opportunity to discuss an issue, as opposed to the traditional lecture presentation format.

Throughout the years, professors have invited peer educators into their classrooms to educate students on the latest and most important health issues concerning students. Not only do peer educators aid their peers but also benefit from a personal standpoint.

'As a peer educator, I have gained an awareness of issues that concern myself and my fellow students. I enjoy the responsibility and ability to act on information that I receive as well as helping others with what I learn,' said Brian Haines, a graduate assistant in the Health and Wellness Office.

For students majoring in the field of health or education, the peer education class is an option.

Peer education involves an application process which admits students into a training class. The class meets once a week and may be taken for one hour of community service credit. In addition to the class, outside meetings and presentations are required.

Applications for the class are available in the Health and Education and Wellness Office located on the second floor of the Bill Daniel Student Center.

Faculty, staff and students may request a presentation by contacting the Health and Wellness Office at least two weeks prior to the presentation.

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