Peer Health Educators table to bring awareness to sexual health, safety


Audrey Cahak / Hilltop Views

Students passing by the outreach table stop to take a look at activities and resources.

The St. Edward’s Recreation and Wellness Peer Health Educators put on weekly tabling and outreach events on a number of different health and wellness topics such as nutrition, stress, relationships and — for the week before Valentine’s Day — sexual health. 

The Peer Health Educators set up a table on Feb. 9 outside of Moody Hall to inform students about aspects of sexual wellness, specifically on the use of condoms and other contraceptives. 

“Every couple years we do a survey that’s used nationwide,” PHE Paula Sweeny said. “It’s the National College Health Assessment, and it’s a poll about the habits of college students and their mental health, physical health, emotional, sexual health, nutrition, money — all aspects of wellness. We saw there was a need for students at St. Edward’s to get more sexual health information and advice.” 

The PHE team handed out pamphlets detailing principles of sexual health, such as consent, communication, protection, shared values and pleasure The pamphlets also included tips on sexual communication, information on STIs and details on the types and uses of condoms.  

“A lot of students don’t get information about topics like these from high school or even their parents,” Krupa Shah, the assistant director for Recreation and Wellness, said. “So it’s just knowing how to disseminate that information so it’s medically accurate and evidence-based.”

Nguyen presents the 10 steps to putting on a condom correctly. If students guessed correctly, they were given a prize. (Audrey Cahak / Hilltop Views)

RecWell also created games for students to play for prizes: The first was guessing the order of the 10 steps for putting on a condom. The second was a quiz where participants would spin the wheel to see which question they had to answer. The rewards for these games were safe sex-themed buttons, pins and stickers and heart-shaped lollipops.

“For something like sexual health, it may not be the most comfortable thing to talk about — especially with some random person you see on campus,” PHE Kaitlyn Nguyen said. “But if we have a nice activity or a game or prizes it will really draw people in.” 

According to Shah, because St. Edward’s is a Catholic campus, the PHE could not pass out condoms directly to the students because of Catholic restrictions on contraceptives, but RecWell was still able to educate students on their use. 

“When you have questions about some of these topics, you’re first going to go to your roommate or your friend,” Shah said. “You’re not going to go to your professor and be like, ‘I’m having issues with my sexual health,’ so it’s important for peers to know accurate information so they can help their peers out: peer-to-peer education.” 

RecWell and the PHEs also post about their health and wellness services on their Instagram, @healthyhilltoppers.