The school year has kicked off early for Director of Peer Education and Chemical Health Laura Herbst-Johnson and the Peer Assistants. The Peer Assistants are a group of students who volunteer their time working for the Peer Education and Chemical Health Office, located on the lower level of the Campus Center, in promoting health and wellness on campus. This week the Peer Assistants have participated in training to reinforce their healthy lifestyle skills.
According to their mission statement this healthy lifestyle includes: “being friends by being available to listen to other people’s stories and act as a bridge to campus resources, educators by teaching decision-making skills and strategies to stay safe along with dispelling myths and misperceptions using the latest health information, activists by creating partnerships and networks, challenging unhealthy attitudes and behaviors, and refusing to be passive bystanders, role models by leading lives that are healthy and balanced, and team members by being supportive and encouraging of other Peer Assistants and collaborating partner organization members.”
“I think it’s important to stay aware and read the PA sponsored posters. Knowing what they do is important,” Sophomore Ashley Evans said. Evans describes the Peer Assistants as a resource that first-years can take advantage of on campus. “They help students stay healthy and avoid poor choices. It’s important to know who they are,” she said.
The Peer Assistants sponsor numerous events throughout the year including the 100 Hour Challenge, a campus-wide initiative to avoid binge drinking or alcohol use.
“Going to PA sponsored events is helpful. They have the resources, skills, and knowledge that other people on campus may not have,” Sophomore Katya McDonald said.
“College is a place where you have a lot more independence and it good to have people on campus who reinforce healthy behavior,” McDonald said.
The Peer Assistants also aid helping students cope with stress, physical health, sexual health, financial well-being, and mental health.
“The Peer Assistants are students helping other students adjust to Gustavus. That student to student interaction is important,” Sophomore Alma Jorgenson said.
“Peer Assistant sponsored events help you learn how to navigate Gustavus. They are a way to learn how to live life on your own and teach you that it will be okay,” she said. Jorgenson described the Peer Assistants as helpful tools to use.
“It shows that Gustavus cares about their students and their experiences that other students are there for them planning events and helping them not not the administration,” Jorgenson said.