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History of Peer Health Education

The success of this peer approach to health promotion lies in the power of students to educate and empower their peers to make healthy decisions and maintain healthy behaviors. With the strong foundation of Peer Health Education at UVA, the services and programs these students are able to provide continue to expand and grow. 



Established in 1971

In response to the admission of women to UVA, a group of students joined together to educate peers about sexuality issues. Comprised primarily of Resident Staff, this group developed programs, conducted workshops, and distributed educational materials.  They published a booklet about sexuality called “An Ounce of Prevention.”  The group called itself the Counselors Committee on Human Sexuality (CCHS).

Growth and Expansion in the 70s and 80s

The Counselors Committee on Human Sexuality (CCHS) rebranded as the Peer Sexuality Educators (PSEs) in 1980. Other peer education groups form including the Peer Alcohol Educators (PAEs) in ‘85 and Peer Lifestyle Educators (PLEs) in ’86.

Holistic Approach in the 90s

The first annual 4th Year 5K Race takes place on the morning of the last home football game in ’92. The PSEs and PLEs are integrated to become the Peer Health Educators (PHE) in 1993. In response to growing concern about alcohol and other drug use at UVA, a new peer education group is formed, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT) in ’99.

Emphasis on Evidence-Based Interventions in the 00s

Student Interns are selected to help lead the PHEs and coordinate programming. A 3 credit course in Curry is established as part of the required training to become a peer educator. While being mindful of tradition, an increased focus is put on evaluation and evidence-based programming.

Reimagining Peer Education in 2020

The PHEs and ADAPT peer educators unite and re-brand as the OHP Peer Health Educators in 2020 to increase collaboration opportunities and further explore the intersections of well-being topics. As Student Health and Wellness prepares for our new building, peer educators are tasked to reimagine peer education in the new decade while facing a host of new challenges.