Langley Park Peer Educators are Shaping Up the Community
by Benjamin Rosado, Adelante Program Case Manager
As the Latino population grows in the United States, there is a pressing need for culturally competent and comprehensive sexual health curricula to prevent and reduce rates of sexually transmitted infections, adolescent pregnancy, and gender-based violence and to create supportive spaces for gender identity exploration.
The Adelante Program, located in Langley Park, Maryland, in partnership with The George Washington University School of Public Health is developing a bilingual sexual health peer promotion program called Sexual Health Advocates, Promoters, and Educators (SHAPE). SHAPE aims to: (1) teach young people about sexual health, gender equality and identity, and community resources; and (2) support young people in developing facilitation and leadership skills to promote sexual health education in their communities and social circles.
Since September 2014, a group of 7-9 dedicated and committed Latino high schoolers have been meeting weekly after school to discuss sexual health issues and community resources for pregnancy and STI/HIV prevention, birth control options, and gender identity. What makes SHAPE unique is how the program approaches the subject of sexual health through a gender equality and social justice lens as these relate to the Latino and immigrant communities in Langley Park.
In a few short months, the program participants have applied their new knowledge by co-facilitating sexual education workshops with Adelante’s case manager Benjamin Rosado to community peers in English. This month, Benjamin and SHAPE participants will begin facilitating workshops to Spanish-speaking youth in the community. “I appreciate being able to teach other youth what I have learned in the program,” said SHAPE participant Pablo. “It makes me feel accomplished that I’m doing something good to help others.”
Program Accomplishments to Date:
- Visited the teen health clinic Community Clinic, Inc. – Teen and Young Adult Health Connection (CCI-TAYA) to learn about the unique services of a youth health center.
- Partnered with a youth-focused theatre program (Voices of Now via Area Stage Theatre) to develop youth’s presentation, improvisation, and public speaking skills.
- Promoted sexual health information and awareness at a community health fair (Langley Park Health Fair) to develop youth’s community outreach skills.
The next session of sexual education workshops (CUIDATE) for Latino youth in the Langley Park community begins today! Learn more about the Adelante CUIDATE program at http://www.adelantelp.org/cuidate-sex-education-starts-today/