At PHE Boston, our success teaching ninth grade students about their mental health, sexual health, and substance abuse is dictated not only by our college volunteer health educators, but also by our partners within the school system. We could not do this important work without them!
We recently asked Commander Matthew Sturges, teacher at John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury, for his thoughts on the PHE Boston program:
“Peer Health Exchange reaches out and connects with students in a critical time in their life. This is a program that has mentors not much older than the freshmen students themselves. The students listen to these college mentors because they see themselves in their shoes in a few years, and they like what they see. High school students want to be viewed as informed, chic, and knowledgeable. Peer Health provides that opportunity and gives students the knowledge to make smart decisions concerning their mental health and physical health.
I like the diversity of topics [in PHE]. Every week is new; the topics are relevant to freshmen. Many times the topics are so timely that students share stories that have either happened to them or a friend that very day. When I see students interacting with PHE lessons in a positive way I truly believe Peer Health is having an impact. I’m delighted to see O’Bryant students asking tough, direct questions and seeing the mentors answering the questions directly in the student’s own vernacular.
The topic that [I believe] has a high impact with students is the advocacy lesson on harassment. After that lesson I had students coming up to me and in some cases reading to me mean spirited texts sent on social media. Social media is such a part of a teenager’s life that they need strategies on how to handle rejection, ridicule or embarrassment by an acquaintance, a friend or an adult. Peer Health provides ways to handle the stress.”