OSWEGO – Recognizing Oswego County’s Community Champion for April is a group of young people with a passion for educating their peers.
Oswego County Opportunities’ Youth 4 Youth program has established a team of peer educators in the Fulton High School who provide education and outreach to youth in their school and community about HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control and other health topics.
According to ROC Co-President, Penny Morley, “Peer education has been shown to be effective in reaching young people and educating them about high risk activities. Students often see their peers as more credible than adults. As part of ROC’s focus this month on STD and Teen Pregnancy awareness, we are very happy to highlight this program and its importance in the Fulton community.”
The Youth 4 Youth Leaders are well known in their school and community.
Some examples of their efforts include helping the health teachers teach the sex ed curriculum, staffing tables at the high school, assisting with puberty night at the middle school and giving presentations for community groups and agencies.
Youth 4 Youth Leader Rachel LeVea commented that she notices when others have wrong information.
“I can tell by the questions they ask me that they don’t quite get something. When I explain things to them, they seem happy to receive the right information,” LeVea said.
Peer educator Karli Hanna said that much of what they do is reassure students and connect them with clinical services.
Students that serve as youth leaders go through an extensive training program.
OCO Health Education Supervisor Toni Ross oversees the program and said, “It is important that our youth leaders know how to answer difficult questions, how to serve as a role model and how to connect students with resources that already exist in the community. It is also important we provide them with a good support network which includes the OCO Health Education team and Fulton City School District Health Educator Cheryl Perkins.”
When asked why he enjoys serving as a Youth 4 Youth Leader, Dakota Stoutenger said that he likes the involvement.
Along with LeVea and Cheyenne Velasquez, Stoutenger went to Albany last December to speak at a World AIDS Day event.
“Dakota, Rachel and Cheyenne shared their experiences with HIV prevention. They were well receive by students and adults in the audience and received a special recognition award by the New York State AIDS Institute for the excellent work they are doing,” Ross said.
Recognizing Oswego County focuses on the positive efforts that are being made in the community.
Each month ROC uses this recognition effort as a platform for emphasizing the wonderful work that is happening in Oswego County to promote the health and wellness of children, families and adults.
A theme is selected each month and nominations for Community Champions are solicited.
For May, Recognizing Oswego County is seeking nominations for Community Champions working in the area of Military Appreciation.
Nominations are due by May 4.
The nomination form is available on the “Recognizing Oswego County-ROC” Facebook page or by contacting [email protected]
The next ROC meeting will be held May 5 at 8 a.m. at the Oswego Federal Credit Union at the corner of East Fourth and Bridge streets in Oswego.
All are welcome.