Peer Education Initiative Launched in St. Catherine

Date Published: 
Friday, March 3, 2017

Through the YIC Peer Education Programme, Youth Empowerment Officer Orlando Pinto aims to train a cadre of youth leaders as peer educators in the Portmore and St. Catherine Youth Information Centres. Primarily, these peer educators will utilise the performing arts in an effort to reduce HIV/AIDS related stigma among the youth population in St. Catherine. The team will also encourage condom use among their peers who are sexually active, and promote voluntary counselling and testing among the youth population in the parish.

According to Pinto, "the research indicates that peers are a strong influencer of behaviour, particularly as it relates to sexual and reproductive health, violence and substance abuse. We want to leverage the power of role modelling, and build the capacity of the team to be a positive influence on their peers".

Pinto notes that the peer educators will receive training in peer education, facilitation skills, healthy lifestyles, sexual and reproductive health, conflict resolution and mediation. The team will also develop performing arts pieces in music, dance and drama. With these pieces, the young facilitators will assist Youth Empowerment Officers through the processes of initiating, planning and executing personal development/empowerment sessions within the parish (Schools and Communities) in a creative way.  

 

Orlando Pinto, YEO-St. Catherine (left) leading an SRH Empowerment Session at  a mobile YIC

 

It is envisioned that with the assistance of the St. Catherine Youth Empowerment Officers, the team of peer educators will coordinate community interventions at popular youth hangout spots in the parish through mobile YICs. These interventions are in an effort to motivate, excite and involve youth, particularly those who are unattached. 

Pinto added, "our facilitators are mainly from the inner city areas with the parish- but yet possess strong sense of self-worth and moral stance, with some gaining access to tertiary education. These young people were selected based on their interest in the programme, they are most trainable, they are agents of youth advocacy and rights, and very passionate about youth participation and development".