Use Condom Sense
The Safer Sex Olympics, Condom Bingo, Sex, Drugs and Pop Culture, and Beers Cheers and Fears are common programs and events that are heard around campus that are held by the HOPE Peer Educators.
“Our job is to spread awareness about health on and off campus,” Rachel Mortimer, 21, a junior art education major and HOPE Peer Educator. “We are protecting our students.”
The HOPE Peer Educators are trained on different health topics and go out and teach students through fun programs and games on campus. Some of the programs include teaching safer sex practices, stress relief, healthy diets, and being safe while drinking, according to fellow peer mentor, Sami Parks, 21, a senior English secondary education major.
While the HOPE Peer Educators are trained and present on all areas of healthy living for students, many students and other organizations just focus on the fact that they hand out condoms and have events about safer sex.
According to Mortimer, the HOPE Peer Educators’ slogan when it comes to the Protection Connection, is “abstinence is best, but protection is next.”
“A lot of organizations get a misrepresentation of our programs, but we cannot pass out free abstinence,” Parks said. “I can teach students about abstinence and also pass out a free condom.”
Students are at the age when STI’s are prevalent on college campuses, and the Educators just want students to be aware of the possibilities and know how to protect themselves.
“It’s stereotypical of college students that they are at the age when they are sexually active,” Mortimer said. “We are not promoting sex, but wanting students to be safe.”
One of the organizations on campus that in the past many believe have been in opposition of the HOPE Peer Educators has been CRU, formally known as Campus Crusade for Christ. This past year though the organizations have had no problems with each other and respect each other’s messages.
“Even though HOPE hands out condoms, I think that individuals have mostly decided whether or not they are going to stay abstinent, early on,” Kelly Martin, 18, a freshman Communication major and member of CRU said. “I feel as though they are helping those who have chosen to be sexually active.”
What HOPE Peer Educators do is try and make education about health and safety fun, explains Mortimer. Having a fun event like condom bingo and Safer Sex Olympics is a way to get more students involved and reach out to those who otherwise wouldn’t have come to the event.
The HOPE Peer Educators are a unique Slippery Rock University organization that has grown in the past few years that promotes healthy living, according to Parks. Most PASSHE schools have an organization that is similar to HOPE on campus, but there is no other organization like them at SRU.