This year, Peer Health Exchange is reaching 17,000 young people with our skills-based health education program in high schools across the country. We have trained nearly 2,000 college students to serve as volunteer health educators, and they join high school classrooms each week to empower young people with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to make healthy decisions.
The energy of our college volunteers and high school students always makes the fall an exciting time of year at PHE. This fall’s energy feels even more powerful given all that’s happening for young people on their campuses and as we get ready to launch the next phase of PHE’s work.
We just completed a four year strategic plan focused on deepening our impact on young people, and we are using the data and lessons learned to inform our plan for the future. Through a matched comparison evaluation, we saw that our program significantly improves knowledge, skills, and help-seeking behavior; our outcomes were particularly strong in mental health, which is meaningful given its impact on other areas of health—from sexual health to substances. We also saw really promising results when we directly connected students with health centers. Students who received a tour of their school-based health center were nearly twice as likely to use a health center as their non-PHE peers.
These learnings are guiding our next phase. Over the next five years, we plan to deliver and grow our stronger program to reach 30,000 young people in 2021, partner to build a more integrated model for health education, and build our own capacity to sustain our impact. You can read more about our 2016-2021 Strategic Plan here, and we will be diving deeper into specific aspects of this plan over the months ahead. As we move into the new year, one thing is clear: successful partnerships are what will drive greater impact—partnerships with schools, health centers, hospitals, community organizations, and young people themselves.
We are excited to be launching this blog, and see it as a place to share and build the conversation around making health education and health equity a priority. This will be a platform for us to share new content with our PHE community and to build on perspectives from our broader community of health and education partners. We hope you will check back often, as we will be sharing posts from different voices within our community, across different topics that impact our work.
We look forward to sharing updates with you and hope that you will join in the conversation!