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Health peer educators spread awareness about alcohol

2019-03-04-Safe-Spring-Break
Qadur Jones shows off Fatal Vision "drunk goggles" that simulate the visual impairments resulting from a high blood-alcohol content. As a peer health educator, Jones uses the goggles as a way to demonstrate the effects of alcohol on a person's sight.

Drunk driving, safe sex and safety may be considered sensitive or taboo topics, but are weekly conversations for University of North Georgia (UNG) health peer educators like Qadur Jones.

Jones is one of 14 peer health educators on UNG's Dahlonega Campus who raise awareness about various subjects that range from the consequences of risky behavior to tips for health and wellness. Jones and other peer health educators talk openly and honestly with UNG students about these sensitive and often personal topics throughout the semester.

Jones believes it is important to talk to students about either not drinking and driving or having a sober designated driver. To help get the point across about the dangers of drinking and driving, he and other peer health educators use Fatal Vision "drunk goggles" that simulate the visual impairments resulting from a high blood-alcohol content. The goggles are available in levels from "a little buzzed" to "blackout drunk."

"Most students go straight to the blackout drunk version," Jones said, explaining students don the goggles and attempt to play cornhole. "I watch them try to throw the beanbag in the hole. It goes everywhere but the hole."

Other activities and booths inform students about other health-related issues, including sex education and sexually transmitted diseases. Meri-Leigh Smith, health educator at UNG who oversees the peer health educators, said these students are a vital resource.

"Students connect better with people their own age and are more likely to talk openly with them," she said. "And if the information is coming from a fellow student, they are more likely to listen."

Students can connect with peer health educators at informational booths or interact with them during specific activities. For example, a DUI simulator will be on the Dahlonega Campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 4, as part of Safe Spring Break Week.

"It will give students a realistic experience of what it feels like to drive while under the influence," Smith said. "It will issue a report of the laws they broke while behind the wheel and show them a video of what it looked like while they were driving."

During the same week, peer educators will present other topics from noon to 2 p.m. on the Hoag Patio. They include:

  • March 5: "Be a Spring Break Smartie" — Smarties candies will be handed out with spring break safety tips
  • March 6: "Palooza on the Patio" — discussion about the consequences of alcohol and unprotected sex
  • March 7: "Fun in the Sun" — sunscreen samples and travel safety tips will be passed out to students

"It is a casual but effective way to spread awareness," Smith said.

For more information about peer health educators, email Smith at meri-leigh.smith@ung.edu.

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