The HIP Faculty Sponsor & President Training Day for all 45 HIP high schools in Miami-Dade County was held on Wednesday, September 9th at the University of Miami. Students and faculty sponsors were so excited to get the HIP year started! This year, HIP will be serving 30,000 students with over 1,200 student peer health educators!
HIP Day honors the Health Information Project, a nonprofit organization that trains high school juniors and seniors to teach their fellow ninth graders about health issues. The annual event at Marlins Park brings the juniors and seniors together to swap stories and tips.
“One thousand teenagers that are changing the future of Miami,” founder Risa Berrin said at the opening of the event. “Today is a day to celebrate you, to talk about health issues that kids and teenagers are facing and to raise our voices to address those issues together. “
Berrin, a Miami Palmetto Senior High graduate, began the program after realizing while teaching street law classes at Miami Senior High and Coral Reef Senior High that students were dealing with a multitude of health issues without knowing about resources that could help.
“I kind of recognized that there were not a lot of health issues that were not being addressed,” Berrin said. “I saw a tremendous need.”
She spent a year developing the program. Students sign up to be peer health educators in 10th grade and commit to two years in order to train the new crop of educators. Students also learn public speaking skills. Faculty members at each school oversee the program.
Risa Berrin, Founder & Executive Director of HIP, was presented the Young Professional of Promise Award by the FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work at the 2015 Path Awards luncheon. Congratulations Risa!
Now in its fifth year, the Health Information Project — HIP, for short — has worked with more than 27,000 high school students in the county teaching them about reproductive health, a mainstay of the health classes of yore, and also about relationships, nutrition, exercise, obesity, alcohol, tobacco and drugs. This school year alone, HIP has partnered with 26 Miami high schools and is teaching more than 15,000 ninth graders about health and relationship issues they would most likely never learn about in school.
Funded by private and public partners, HIP bills itself as a peer-to-peer club with 600 specially trained juniors and seniors who deliver information to ninth graders in a frank and nonjudgmental way. It’s these peer educators who are the key to the program’s success, Berrin said.