Health education class teaches students to 'make a difference'

By Carolyn Smith

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Wearing a body-size condom on your head is not that embarrassing considering people can only see your shoes but it does get pretty hot inside, said one student-health promoter.

Brian Vrtis, a marketing sophomore, said that his primary interest in promoting safer sex is to educate and approach the subject in an upbeat way. And if wearing a condom around the Mall gets the point across, he is more than willing to do it.

Vrtis is enrolled in a three-credit class which students can apply to get into during the fall semester of each year. The students then commit to a year with the program, and attend one-hour meetings each week.

The next fall, students participate in various activities such as giving presentations around campus about safer sex, drug and alcohol issues, and some rape discussions. They also assist with activities like National Condom Week.

"It's a hands-on and content class," said Carolyn Collins, a health educator who teaches some of the classes.

"When we take applications in the fall, we look for people with organizational skills, people who are willing to learn presentation skills and are really excited about promoting these important issues," she said.

She said the average enrollment for the class is 25 students.

Lee Ann Hamilton, also a health educator, said it is exciting to see students develop skills as educators, and she is impressed with the attitudes students have about making differences in people's lives.

"I consider these people to be friends of mine," she said.

The program has been in practice at the UA for 17 years, and in the past two years has become more specialized dealing with drugs, alcohol, and safer sex where before it included issues such as fitness and nutrition.

"It's now an outreach group," Hamilton said.

Edith Jones, a molecular and cellular biology senior who has been a student health promoter for a year, said she is concerned about the world-wide spread of AIDS and wanted to help make people aware.

"If you don't get embarrassed easily, then it's great ... It doesn't bother me at all," she said.

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