s.w.e.e.t. Peer Educators Program Receives Award

s.w.e.e.t. peer educators

News Story: May 12, 2014

Sacred Heart University’s s.w.e.e.t. peer educators program recently won the “Outstanding Peer Education Group” award at the NASPA/BACCHUS Network Area 10 spring conference. BACCHUS is a network of more than 8,000 student leaders and advisers who work with over four million peers on more than 330 campuses nationwide. They work to develop cutting-edge tools for campuses consisting of student-friendly training programs, resource manuals and health topic message promotion that address high-risk behaviors. Sacred Heart University’s s.w.e.e.t. peer educators program promotes a fun, healthy, balanced and safe college lifestyle by providing information and programs on a variety of wellness issues and connecting students with helpful campus and community resources.

“Receiving this award for BACCHUS Area 10 is such an honor,” said Caitlin Isherwood ’15, of Warwick, R.I., vice president of the s.w.e.e.t. peer educators program. “In New England, there are so many amazing groups of peer educators that do a great job of keeping their peers up to date on the latest facts to help them stay healthy in college. We have worked so hard this year, and it is safe to say the hard work paid off!”

The criteria for winning the “Outstanding Peer Education Group” award was to show commitment to impacting the campus community, accept growth and leadership opportunities, work effectively as a team, collaborate well with campus groups and organizations and demonstrate passion, creativity and follow-through in activities. The s.w.e.e.t. peer educators program at Sacred Heart exemplified all of these criteria. The program has been around for 10 years and is continuously growing and developing. It has become an integral part of the Sacred Heart campus culture. As a branch of the Wellness Center, this program offers outreach and programming, presents direct feedback to the clinical staff, provides a student voice on various campus committees, works on new prevention initiatives and intervenes directly when a student is struggling or in need of help.

“This team is always up for a challenge, is incredibly supportive of all group members, looks for learning and leadership opportunities and is setting the tone of a healthy and happy campus culture,” said Karen Flanagan, coordinator of peer education for the s.w.e.e.t. peer educators team. “The Wellness Center staff simply could not do the work that we do without their hard work, passion and commitment.”

This past year has been an exceptional one for the s.w.e.e.t. peer educators program. They organized and launched some very successful new programs on campus, including a video they created entitled, “What We Wish We’d Known Before We Got to SHU.” This video was shown at freshman orientation and used peer education and student wellness content regarding alcohol, stress, sleep, nutrition and exercise as well as interviews and advice from a variety of students on campus. The purpose was to help incoming freshman understand the importance of wellness in college success. The group also helped plan and implement “Fresh Check Day,” a major mental health and suicide prevention effort in the state of Connecticut sponsored by the Jordan Porco Memorial Foundation. They also worked with a student team from the University of Alabama to implement the “Less Than You Think” anti-binge drinking campaign in the month of February leading up to spring break.

“s.w.e.e.t has helped make my time here at SHU great and has helped me every day as an RSA (Resident Success Assistant) and as a member of Greek life,” said Isherwood. “I love being able to help others and know that I have educated them or helped them through a problem they may be having. Even if the message only gets to one person when we present about alcohol, drugs, bystander intervention, stress, nutrition or sleep, I’m happy because that is one more person that I know will be safe in college.”