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Student efforts capture national honors


Creative cancer education program captures national honor

UC Riverside's group also selected as "Outstanding Affiliate" in mentoring program

(December 24, 2002)

Student health counselors at University of California, Riverside recently won a national recognition award for the third year in a row for an imaginative peer education program to educate students about breast and testicular cancer.

The volunteer student counselors are part of a UC Riverside peer health education program called “Golden ARCHES.” Although the name plays on the McDonald’s logo allusion, the “golden” represents school colors, and ARCHES is the acronym for Advocating Responsible Choices through Health Education and Support. It includes three specific programs of student athletes as mentors; advocates in the fraternities and sororities; and the peer health educators who focus on the student residence halls.

Six of the students accepted the national competition honor in Orlando in mid-November at an annual conference and competition, sponsored by the BACCHUS and GAMMA Peer Education Network. It is a group for the education, training and support for peer prevention programming on college campuses, promoting healthy lifestyles by advocating informed, independent decision-making and creating respect for state laws and campus policies. It was begun in 1975 by students at the University of Florida in response to campus problems.

"These students are passionate about making a difference,” complimented Doug Everhart, group advisor and Campus Health Center health educator.

The student groups making up the Golden ARCHES program are: ANGLE (Advocates for National Greek Leadership & Education) for fraternity and sorority students; SAMs (Student Athlete Mentors) for student-athletes; and PHE (Peer Health Educators) for the general student population. These three groups operate independently to address the concerns of their specific populations, but also work collaboratively to address the needs and concerns of the whole campus. Nearly 50 students are involved between the three groups, and they sponsor more than a dozen awareness campaigns and an educational speaker series during the year. They also facilitate educational programs, run the “social norms” campaign, represent the student voice on campus committees, distribute educational materials and host substance-free social events. Another popular aspect of the program is the “Party TOADS” Bar (Taking Out Alcohol to Drink Safely). This bar features nonalcoholic mixed drinks and is featured at a wide variety of campus and athletic events.

For more information on the “social norms” approach to educating students to adopt healthier and safer choices about alcohol, drugs or other behaviors, see The Press-Enterprise article at: http://www.inthenews.ucr.edu/20021107norm.htm.

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