Parents, friends, community members and Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood staff gathered Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at Space 360 in Hudson to recognize 12 S.T.A.R.S. peer educators at their end of the year event.
Those recognized for completing the program were Amber Markham, Danielle Gilleo, Angela Mathews, Letycia Tillman, Jonathon Tenace, Rachel Gryner, Isabel Rothstein, Chris Thompson, Lester Zaborski III, Dylan Soares-Kern, Emilie Latham and Olivia Williams.
S.T.A.R.S. stands for Seriously Talking About Responsible Sex. The UHPP S.T.A.R.S. program each year recruits and trains a new group of high school students from Albany and Columbia Counties to act as peer educators. The peer educators learn about sexual health and responsibility to provide educational programs on issues of sexual health in classrooms, community settings and our weekly teen clinic.
The S.T.A.R.S. program has been able to engage peers year after year, allowing them to make an ongoing difference in their communities as well as themselves, said Meaghan Carroll, UHPP Education Director. The peers do a minimum of 50 teen clinic sessions a year.
“Participating in the S.T.A.R.S. program changed my personality dramatically,” said graduating peer educator Rachel Gryner. “When I joined the program, my main goals were to improve my public speaking while having an impact on others. I achieved both of these goals, made some awesome friends and had a lot of fun along the way.”
The camaraderie of the kids in the program gives them the confidence to support each other and those that come to S.T.A.R.S. for information said a parent of a peer educator. It has also increased my child’s determination to help others.
The success of the program is shown by the peers’ ability to take the knowledge they are given and use it in their future endeavors, said Carroll. “Seeing a group of very diverse kids from very diverse backgrounds all share that experience was rewarding,” said Carroll.
The S.T.A.R.S. program is made possible through a grant from the New York State Department of Health-Community Based Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CBAPP).
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood (UHPP) is a community-based non-profit organization providing advocacy, education and medical services for reproductive health care since 1934. In 2009, over 14,000 patients made 24,975 visits to UHPP health centers located in Albany, Hudson and Troy. UHPP health educators present over 300 education programs reaching over 5,000 youth and young adults. UHPP services are delivered with special concern for the underserved.