Even as scores of persons attended the 2019 Rupununi Rodeo, it was not just all about fun, frolic and entertainment. The Ministry of Public Health, through its adolescent health unit, ensured a booth was set up at the Rupununi Ranchers Rodeo Ground giving patrons the opportunity to be educated on sexual and reproductive health as well as other health-related issues.
Targeting mainly youths, the peer educators, Orlan Thomas and Dennize Mithekhozer, took turns in engaging those who would have stopped by the booth. Both are trained volunteers from St. Ignatius and Fairview respectively, and are ensuring Rodeo goers are aware of making the right choices.
Peer educators are usually tasked with hosting community sensitisation and awareness forums and activities for young people, addressing issues such as sexual and reproductive health, drugs and alcohol just to mention a few.
While they spearhead awareness exercises for events of this magnitude, they are also responsible for working along with the Community Health Workers in their respective villages and educate residents on making healthy choices while showing them how a bad health choice can affect them.
Medical Officer attached to the Adolescent Health unit, Dr. Faqueeda Watson-Jones, who gave an oversight, noted that it was not just another booth set up to share pamphlets and condoms. It was established to ensure that even as young people want to enjoy themselves, they must be cognisant of the harms that lurk if they do not make the right choices.
“Rodeo is the perfect opportunity for the peer educators to reach out to their fellow peers. This is an event where you might have a large contingent of young people here, and, of course, there will be drinking and all that. We are not condemning them for any of that but we just want to educate them and get them on the right path.”
This will aid in creating positive peer norms among themselves (peers). It is also believed that such exercises at events like this can directly address social issues which affect mostly the youth. The Peer Educators have been at major activities in Lethem including flag-raising ceremonies, Mashramani activities and Lethem town week. (DPI)
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