• Social Innovation Fellowship

Award Year 

Sexual Health Advocacy through Peer Education (SHAPE)

SHAPE is a pilot project designed to train adolescents at The Met, a local alternative high school in South Providence, to become peer health educators. Throughout the fall semester, six Brown volunteers will train and mentor a group of 10-12 Met students after school on topics ranging from anatomy, STIs, and contraception to dating, gender and sexuality, and body image. In the spring semester, Met peer educators will begin facilitating sexual health education workshops in freshmen classes. Brown volunteers will then transition into the role of supporting the peer educators, helping them prepare for workshops, and shadowing them in the classroom to help manage students and ensure that the information the peer educators are presenting is accurate

It is our hope that by using the model of peer-to-peer health education the program will help to reduce STI and pregnancy rates at the Met by empowering students to take control of their health, and establishing social norms at the school that encourage practicing safer sex.

Personal Statement

To this day, I still remember the first time I received real sexual health education. In elementary school they had attempted to warn fifth graders about the horrific changes that our bodies would undertake over the next decade. However, it was not until the 8th grade that two high school students entered my science advisory and explained sexuality at a time when it was becoming increasingly relevant. Much of my life has unfolded as a result of that class almost six years ago. I remember the information, the silly questions my peers wrote on note cards, and the activities we participated into enforce our understanding. The most lasting impact came from seeing people around my age speaking so comfortably about sex. I remember deciding at that moment, that I would be one of those high school students.

My junior year in high school I became a peer health educator with a program called PASSHEN. Through this program, I learned what it takes to sustain a successful peer-lead program. At Brown, I have continued to pursue this work through PHASE. Through my work with this sexual health education program, I have come to realize how crucial it is for youth to hear this information from people their own age. Peer health education empowers the educator through an understanding of their body, sets new social standards, provides peer resources in and outside of the classroom, and builds comfort around sexuality in a way necessary to promote health and safe decisions.