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One on One

Healthy Devils are not just Duke students who take care of themselves.

Instead, these peer educators look out for and provide information to the entire student body, a group of trained students who present programs, host special events and speak to their peers about health issues involving sex, drugs, alcohol and nutrition.

"The main goal [of the peer education program] is to serve as role-models, as someone that peers can turn to for advice," said Becky Griesse, Health Education Specialist for the Office of Health Promotion.

Each educator is certified under Bacchus and Gamma, an international association of college- and university-based peer education programs. Training tackles such issues as confidentiality, presentation and listening skills and stress management.

Once students are trained, they join one of four groups--Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD), Duke Educational Leaders in Sexual Health (DELISH), Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention (SHARP) and Educational Support to Eliminate Eating Misconceptions (ESTEEM).

"[Peer education] has been around a long time, at least 10 years, but it's been in different forms over those years," Griesse said. "When it first started, it had a two tier program called health advocates and peer health education; now there are [the four groups]."

Staff mentors explain that the key element of the program is the student volunteers. "We know that the most effective way to do this education on campus is to have college students do it," said Jean Leonard, who works with SHARP and is coordinator of Sexual Assault.


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