The Peer Helpers are chosen based on leadership abilities. To reach the varied range of students in the school, different kinds of leaders are necessary. Students are not selected based on grades, test scores, or their status as “good” students, rather, they represent the school population in terms of social groups or cliques.
The class includes representatives of all every racial and ethnic groups at the school. Members may be leaders on the basketball court, at the corner in front of the local convenience store, or in an academic classroom. Some students have a history a school suspensions, some may be passing only a few academic classes, some are members of the school’s special education program. Several are recognized as high risk by counselors and school administration.
Not surprisingly, this combination of high achievers, “at risk” students, academic whizzes and sports stars presents some interesting challenges in the classroom. This is the first time many of the students have worked closely with someone from a completely different cultural background. Before their involvement in this class, most of these students would not have even spoken to one another. By the end of the class they have worked together with enthusiasm and spirit-they have become talented teachers and effective collaborators.
All peer helpers kept a journal as part of their peer helping class. They had many positive comments about the impact of the HOT program on their HIV knowledge, behaviors, self image, and career plans.
Last modified: February 7, 2011