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    035654

    Progress for peers.

    Biggs CJ

    Emphasis. 1986 Winter; 12-3.

    In April 1984, Planned Parenthood of North Central Ohio (PPNCO) was awarded $16,151 of a $280,920 grant to fund a Child and Family Health Services Project to train 25 peer educators in 18 months and to implement a peer education program in cooperation with youth-serving agencies and city and county school systems. PPNCO felt that the peer education program could serve as a pilot program to address the issue of teenage pregnancy and to better evaluate what problems the teenagers in Richland County were facing. After presenting the program at a school board meeting, the Mansfield City Board of Education voted to accept the proposal in the 2 city high schools. PPNCO began recruiting teens immediately after the meeting. The peer educators would be paid for attending the initial training, for meeting twice a month, for in-service training, and for logging their contacts. By the end of July 1984, 10 peer educators had been selected and were ready for training. The curriculum took a family life education approach and covered 30 hours of training divided into the following 4 phases: orientation -- role of the peer educator, myths and misinformation, adolescence, and positive self-image; self-esteem -- societal pressures, rights and responsibilities, assertiveness, peer pressure, decisionmaking, and problem solving; health education -- reproduction, fertilization, pregnancy, prenatal care, sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, sexual abuse, rape and incest, and abstinence; and communication skills -- group discussion, effective communication, and listening skills. Opposition developed in response to Planned Parenthood's conducting this community program, not to peer education itself. Efforts to rescind the school board's decision were initiated and continued throughout the summer. As the school year began, opposition remained high in the schools. Many teachers would not let peer educators introduce themselves in their homerooms. The peer educators, enthused after completing their training, became frustrated in their efforts to become known as contact people. They were seen by many of their peers as "another club." To increase the program's effectiveness and to minimize controversy, the school faculty advisor officially assumed the supervision of the program within the 2 schools. PPNCO's Education Director maintained minimal contact with the peer educators. In-service training and supervision were maintained by the school faculty advisor. As the peer educator program officially ended on the last day of school, PPNCO felt successful in making the community aware of the local teenage pregnancy problem. The peer educators showed an increase in knowledge after training. Self-esteem and communication skills also were improved.
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