Peer Health Interns Take Del Playa By Storm

Students Enjoy Their Free Condoms

Aisa Villanueva

On Friday, January 29 at 10 in the evening, UCSB’s Peer Health Interns gathered at the Del Playa roadblock to distribute free goods.
Represented were Students Teaching Alcohol and Other Drug Responsibility (STAR), Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL), and Sex and Relationships (S&R) interns. STAR distributed free water bottles, HEAL doled out free animal crackers, and S&R passed out free condoms.

In the middle of the blasting music and people’s resounding laughter, an ear-catching repeated call slices through the clamor, “Remember, Lady Gaga said the best accessory is a condom!”
Student Health’s mission is to promote safety awareness when partying, particularly while out in Isla Vista.
“Our [Peer Health Interns] general responsibility is to promote positive life decisions to students, who respond better to their peers who are like them – us. We strive to educate and advocate better health and fitness lifestyles through our different projects,” said Emily Utschig, the Internal Coordinator of HEAL.

The goal of the various environmental strategies is to add a new element to the environment that was not previously at the scene in order to raise safety awareness. Student Health hopes to make a positive impact in the community surrounding UCSB by ensuring that students have an opportunity to take care of themselves with free items.

“With our various projects, like Snack Attack, we get to flood the students’ environment with information and tools that lead to self-preventive measures against hang-overs and the like. We change the students’ environment to help them make better decisions. The snacks and the water are there to fill them up and hydrate their bodies. The condoms are there to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI). They no longer have an excuse to not be more protected,” said Mark Shishim, a health educator at Student Health who works in coordination with the interns.

Peer Health Interns are also focused not only on raising safety awareness in general, but on encouraging students to be responsible by taking care of themselves, and of each other, on a regular basis.

“We named our bi-quarter project in Del Playa as Project Hydrate, Snack Attack, and Condom Alert. Through this, we provide a venue to educate students on how they can better take care of themselves. For example, our condoms are wrapped up in paper that has the seven steps in proper condom usage printed on it,” said Marisol Quevedo, the External Coordinator of STAR.

The efforts of all of the interns certainly did not go unappreciated. Students eagerly shouted in excitement and surprise at the sight of people giving away free water, snacks, and condoms.

The enthusiasm for the event was reiterated by Deputy Sheriff Mark Ward, who was stationed on Del Playa while the festivities were going on. “I think the whole idea is very smart. It helps all these kids once the party effects start to sink in,” he said. “You [have to] drink that water or else all that alcohol will destroy you. You can permanently damage your brain and body if you drink too much.”

The water, snacks, and condoms did not stand a chance of lasting an hour against the droves of surprised party-goers. The Peer Health Interns’ items were quickly taken by grateful party-goers. Said an anonymous passer-by, “I think it’s a great idea! If people can prevent STI’s and unwanted pregnancies, why not?”