In 1993 Loyola pioneered a program of health
education funded through the Christopher O'Neil foundation created
by Tom and Pam O'Neil, parents of Christopher, a Loyola student
who died in what is called a “drunk driving accident.”
We believe these are not accidents, that they are understandable
and preventable. We believe that peer education can play a significant
role in educating Loyola students about risk taking, about drugs
and alcohol, about when to speak out - in short, about a range of
topics aimed at physical and emotional well being. The program represents
the state of the art in health education today, emphasizing a broad
base of topics in an interactive style led by older students whom
younger students look up to. The program was developed at the Harvard
University School of Public Health under the direction of Dr. Charles
Deutsch who has consulted with Loyola's faculty team since the program's
Each year members of the Blakefield staff
review the names of every sophomore, junior and senior with the
aim of choosing peer educators. The object is to put together a
team of students, who are genuine and able to communicate. We also
choose a group of students who are different from each other –
with the hope that younger students will be able to identify with
at least one member of each team. We do not ask peer educators to
be models of angelic behavior. Rather we pick them because we are
confident they will model how to deal directly, candidly and frankly
with difficult issues. We do ask each of them not to act in ways,
which would jeopardize the integrity of the Peer Education program.
A staff of nine faculty members and 12 student
peer educators spend more than 40 hours each year developing health
lessons and training to facilitate those lessons in the middle school
and in ninth grade. Each team is composed of three students, ideally
a sophomore, a junior and a senior, who work with two faculty members.
Each of the four teams is assigned four lessons, three to be presented
to middle school students and one for ninth graders.
Peer Education borrows time from the academic
program to teach lessons in the seventh and eighth grades. In sixth
and ninth grades a special guidance class is the venue by which
the program reaches students at those entry levels.
Guiding Principles of
Loyola Blakefield Peer Education
1. Feelings are neither good nor bad. What
we do with feelings may be good or bad. In fact, even the unpleasant
feelings serve a useful purpose and can be beneficial.
2. Life involves risks. Without risk-takers
man would never have explored the moon, nor discovered the "new
world." The issue is whether the potential gain is worth the
3 Trust is the core of a friendship. Without
trust we have acquaintances, not friends. And confidentiality is
central to trust. There are limits, however, to what is kept confidential.
4. Stress is part of life. The aim is to
learn how to handle stress rather than to deny that one has it.
5. Admitting one has a problem is the first
step to dealing with it.
6. Accidents are avoidable. This does not
mean that an individual has control over all of the factors that
may be involved in an accident.
7. Sound mental health involves a number
of factors, one of which is the ability to create options and alternatives
in one’s life.
8. Personal experience may be the best teacher,
but it is not the only teacher. Certain lessons are too risky to
be learned through experience.
9. People learn best when they are actively
involved in talking, thinking and doing.
10. The statements and the decisions we make
do affect others.
11. Stereotypes limit human freedom.
12. Men and women are different but equal.
13. Every person, regardless of race, age,
sex and sexual orientation, should be accorded respect as human
14. The truth is that we cannot control others.
I can guide, advise, counsel, warn, love, support, encourage, set
limits and enforce consequences, but I cannot make another person
think what I want him to think, feel what I want him to feel, or
do what I want him to do. When I try to control or manipulate another
person, they resent it and resist it.
15. People change their behavior not because
they are told to change it, but because reason and experience persuade
them to change.
16. Addiction is a primary disease. Alcoholics
and other drug addicts are ill, not bad or mentally disturbed.
Psychoactive drugs present a risk to anyone who uses them.
Psychoactive drugs are not evil, but their use is risky and potentially
Alcohol is illegal in the State of Maryland for anyone under 21.
Drug addiction is a complex process involving both the properties
of drugs and the complex proneness of drug users.
Drug addiction and physical dependence are not identical; marijuana
Alcohol is a toxic and potentially addictive drug. It is neither
wonderful nor evil.