Peer Helper Program Delivers Sex Education to Teens in Nevada County 

By Marty Dekay-Bemis

Comprehensive sex education has long been recognized as an essential part of growing up. Studies have shown that when teens have access to this information, they make wiser decisions about their sexuality and are less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. The gap in our local schools regarding providing comprehensive sex education is felt county wide. Citizens for Choice(C4C) is dedicated to narrowing that gap when possible. In 2021, C4C partnered with Bright Futures For Youth (BFFY) to reach adolescents with peer-led comprehensive sex education.

BFFY serves over 200 adolescents in their programs (The Friendship Club, NEO, and Safe), providing a perfect opportunity to reach many young people with accurate information about reproductive health. Adolescents are more receptive to information about sensitive subjects when they hear it from their peers, as opposed to adults. Peer-led sex education is an especially good example of this. BFFY has developed a well-established peer helper program that has been in place for many years. The peers teach youth in their programs about many aspects of their development, including relationships, social media safety, and much more. Expanding their peer helper program to incorporate comprehensive sex ed greatly complements this program.

Prior to receiving training, interested peer helpers went on a field trip to The Clinic! where they received a tour as well as in-depth and hands-on information about the services the clinic offers. Mackenzie Dillis, Certified Nurse Midwife and medical provider for The Clinic!, was on hand to answer questions from the peer helpers. Stepping inside the clinic was an eye-opening experience for the peer helpers and they were eager to learn all they could so they could pass along their knowledge during their presentations at The Friendship Club (TFC).

Nine peer helpers received training that included comprehensive sex education. Out of the nine, two young women stepped forward, eager to present the information to a group of 12 ninth graders. Using a well-developed powerpoint, they delivered accurate and non-judgmental information in a safe environment that was familiar to the girls. Responses from the 9th-grade students were overwhelmingly positive, and a follow-up quiz confirmed that they had learned a great deal from the presentations. 

Future plans for the BFFY/C4C partnership include further development of the sex-ed component of the peer helper program to deliver information to youth in all programs that BFFY offers. Ultimately reaching over 200 adolescents with comprehensive sex education will enable Citizens for Choice to narrow the gap of information among adolescents in our communities.