Peer Health Exchange (PHE) is a national program that has taken up shop at Mills since 2008. PHE equips college students to go out into their communities and teach high school students in the Bay Area about health-related topics through a series of workshops.
There are 13 workshops in all, with topics ranging from sex, relationships, communication, drugs and alcohol, and both physical and mental health. The Peer Educators decide which workshops they will be teaching and teach them throughout the school year.
As of this past year, PHE is now implemented in all of Oakland Unified School District’s high schools, which is an accomplishment for the program.
“[It’s] really cool,” said Avalon Baldwin, a junior who has participated in PHE for all of her three years at Mills. “Although California requires all schools have a health class, it’s usually one of the courses that suffers the most.”
Mills is not the only Bay Area college working with PHE; UC Berkeley, San Francisco State, and St. Mary’s also participate. PHE is also offered in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C.
Baldwin said that PHE focuses on laying out all the choices for teens in a “here’s what you should do” style involving scenarios with drugs and alcohol.
While PHE has been a program Mills students have been able to participate in for the past five years, the organization will not be returning next school year due to a lack of funds and participation. A few committed students like Baldwin may participate with UC Berkeley’s PHE branch next school year.