Youngsters in the Bain and Grant’s Town Urban Renewal Project area were urged to build healthy lifestyles by refraining from illegal drug use and unnecessary sexual activity.

“Everyone who engages in unsafe sexual intercourse or injection drug use is at risk of infection with HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STI),” they were told during the second annual Peer Leadership Workshop.

Youngsters heard from Judith Cooper, executive director, Bahamas Family Planning Association on ‘Sex Education’; Carolyn Russell, executive director, Adolescent Health Clinic on ‘Prevention and Contraception’; Keith Kemp of the HIV/AIDS Centre on ‘Sexually Transmitted Infections’; Sgt 534 Barry Bannister of the RBPF Drug Enforcement Unit on ‘Dangerous Drugs’; Corey Rolle of Bahamas Faith Ministries on Christian Youth Principles.

In his overview of the Peer Leadership programme, Constable 2684 Janeiro Bullard of the Bain and Grant’s Town Urban Renewal Project underscored the theme: ‘Empowering youths to educate each other’.

“Peer education programmes,” he said, “can be a powerful approach to educating youth and changing their attitudes.

“It has been observed that teenagers receive much of their information about sexual expression from other youth and the media and that peer influence becomes increasingly important as adolescents mature.

“Peers then, become an important aspect of an adolescent’s transition to adulthood.

“And, as they move away from dependence on the family, closer ties with their peers give youths the social support they need during these transition years,” Constable Bullard explained.

The peer group is “very important in influencing adolescents’ values and behavior,” he added, and its intervention can enhance HIV knowledge and reduce risk behaviors.

“One of the most effective approaches for communicating essential HIV/STI prevention information to youths is teens talking with other teens,” he said.

And, a family planning clinic programmes found that peer counselors were more effective with teenagers than adult counselors in delivering educational and counseling services to prevent unwanted teenager pregnancy, he added.
“The Peer Leadership Programme, then, seeks to promote positive changes in youth’s norms related to all aspects of adolescent health and sexual behavior, said Constable Bullard.

Led by ASP Carolyn Bowe, the Bain and Grant’s Town Urban Renewal Project’s headquarters is on the corner of Baillou Bill Road and Cameron Street.