About

PHE gives teens the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions by training college students to teach a comprehensive health curriculum in public high schools that lack health education.

History

In 1999, six Yale undergraduates began teaching health workshops in New Haven public schools in order to fill the gap left by an underfunded, understaffed district health program. Today, over 100 Yale volunteers teach (and often serve as the primary source of) health education in ten New Haven schools.

In 2003, the founding members of the group established Peer Health Exchange (PHE) to replicate this successful program in other communities with unmet health education needs. Since then, approximately 3,000 trained PHE volunteers have taught PHE’s health curriculum to over 25,000 low-income 9th graders in NYC, Boston, Chicago, Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

The Need

PHE was founded to address a growing crisis: teenagers today are engaging in risky behavior at alarming rates, harming their bodies and their futures. In recent years, public schools’ increased focus on academic testing combined with budget cuts and staffing shortages have exacerbated this crisis by eliminating health courses, leaving teens unprepared to protect themselves against these serious health risks. Teens who engage in risky behavior today are more likely to struggle or drop out of school, enter the criminal justice system, or live in poverty.

PHE's Response

PHE addresses this need with a 4-part program model:
1. PHE partners with public high schools that lack health education and where the majority of the students live at or below the poverty line.
2. PHE recruits, selects and rigorously trains college students to teach a year-long comprehensive health curriculum in these schools, consisting of 12 standardized health workshops on topics ranging from decision-making and sexual health to substance abuse and nutrition.
3. In the classroom, PHE Health Educators give teenagers the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions.
4. PHE fosters a commitment to public service in college students, preparing them to be leaders committed to serving the needs of their communities.

Impact

-Nearly 90% of PHE high school students said they will use something they learned from PHE workshops to make a healthy decision in the future
-57% of PHE high school students said they had already used something they learned to make a healthy decision during the six months the program ran.
-PHE high school students made statistically significant increases in their health knowledge, with a 22% improvement from Pre-Test to Post-Test.
-92% of PHE principals said they would recommend PHE to other high schools.
-98% of PHE volunteers said they would recommend PHE to other college students.

1. 1 in 4 teens is a binge drinker; 1 in 4 teens smokes cigarettes; 1 in 6 teens is overweight or obese.

2. 3 in 10 sexually active teen girls get pregnant, increasing the risk that they will drop out of school and live in poverty.

3. In recent years, public schools’ increased focus on academic testing and budget cuts have exacerbated this crisis by eliminating health courses.

4. PHE addresses this problem with an effective model of health education and has seen strong initial results.

5. You can help us empower more teens to make healthy decisions. Visit our website to learn more: www.peerhealthexchange.org