In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re showcasing a few of our volunteers this week and their commitment to young people and Peer Health Exchange’s mission.
College/ University: Hunter College
Why did you decide to volunteer at Peer Health Exchange?
I decided to volunteer at Peer Health Exchange because it would give me the opportunity to be part of a community that is passionate about addressing issues which impact everyone in relation to their health on some level. It also seemed to be a great opportunity to gain perspective on what needs to be done to address today’s health disparities from what is heard and isn’t heard from teenagers that we meet as Peer Health Exchange volunteers.
What about Peer Health Exchange vision or mission attracted you to the organization?
I was attracted to the not-so-typical health class environment. I strongly believe that the information and conversations we have with students are more impactful and worthwhile because we are able to relate to each other as educators and students on a more personal level, considering we were sitting in their seats just a few years ago. Moreover, encouraging students to be part of a safe, informative space that takes place when we hold workshops seemed really special.
How long have you been a volunteer at Peer Health Exchange?
This is my third year as a Peer Health Exchange volunteer.
What have you gained and/or learned from volunteering at Peer Health Exchange?
During my time in Peer Health Exchange, I have learned more about the importance of listening. It is easy to have an agenda and exclusively think about how to carry out that agenda, such as when teaching. However, actually listening to someone’s ideas, responding to them, and finding ways to be more informed about certain things is important towards being on the same page with others. Observing students’ relationship with their health education and their health has led me to become more passionate about discussing mental and sexual health, as well as substance use. Moreover, I have learned more about microaggressions in our society and now think more about how seemingly meaningless words and actions can impact someone.
What does health equity mean to you?
Health equity means to destigmatize health topics that create a barrier between ourselves and the ability to be our healthiest selves on physical, psychological, and emotional levels. In tandem, increasing access to resources which could assist healthy development remains imperative for our success towards being a more inclusive society. We should acknowledge and address that not everyone has the same access to information and resources due to limitations such as socioeconomic status, which results in being disregarded in a larger social context which thrives on power, privilege, and oppression. It can be difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle when these social factors limit groups and populations that are unaware of the facts in regard to health because they were never exposed to them. Having more conversations and addressing these issues, is key towards becoming a more overall healthy society.
What issues are you most concerned about?
I am most concerned about addressing ways to achieve health equity in our communities. Unfortunately, health education is not what it should be, and this is largely associated with not knowing the facts and how to make healthy decisions which could empower us. Informing and encouraging young people to know more about resources currently available instead of depending on incorrect information could help with being a more equitable society.
Anything else you would want us to know about you and/or your experience with Peer Health Exchange?
Joining was one the best decisions I made in college!