HIP Club Feature
Health Information Project, or better known as HIP, was founded to create a health education program with a core principle to ensure that every kid in the country is both physically and emotionally healthy. Its executive director, Risa Berrin, created the program after she was inspired to improve the health curriculum in Miami. She had the idea in mind to make health education more interactive, dynamic, and relatable. HIP relies on the idea that juniors and seniors present and discuss these serious topics in a personal way while presenting modern-day reliable information to freshmen who are just entering high school.
It is recognized as a peer-to-peer club that is not only applied in Miami-Dade County, but in other counties as well and is supported by many other organizations and companies. “This program allows me and the rest of the peer health educators to help students find a comfortable place to talk in as well as teach them about certain situations they will go through as they age,” says Isabella Espinosa, the president of HIP at Ferguson this school year. “Knowing that I as well as the rest of the club are able to educate and help the incoming freshman inspires me to continue to make the program work and have it be continued for the next few years.”
In Ferguson, HIP is taught to all the freshmen during their social science classes. Its board consists of a president, vice president, and a secretary which are seniors selected at the end of year through an application and interview process. The junior and senior students who teach the lessons to the freshmen are known as peer health educators or PHEs for short.
PHEs join during the end of their sophomore or junior year. “I joined HIP at the beginning of my junior year in 2020,” said Catherine Caradoso, a junior PHE. “I joined because the program helped me a ton when I was a freshman and I knew since then I wanted to be a HIP PHE. HIP inspires me to help other teens who have faced difficult situations or problems in today’s day and age because of how much the program helped me when I was a freshman.” Therefore, the freshmen that benefited from the HIP program are able to be positively influenced and leave them wanting to give back to their community through HIP as well.
The HIP program does not just only provide the opportunity to become a PHE at school for juniors and seniors, but has more opportunities to be engaged outside of school such as their intern positions. Sofia Pinero, a senior PHE and intern for HIP, shares how the organization has allowed her to work on herself and inspire others.
“For the most part, I’m very talkative and don’t really have issues speaking in front of classes so it was really nice to have a challenge and engage the classroom with difficult topics,” she explains. “As an intern, I worked on developing new language and methods of delivery that will promote inclusion and diversity. I believe that this was crucial during this time because much of this dynamic has changed from the previous year.”
However, like many other clubs this year, HIP had to adapt to the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to continue to teach freshmen and carry out the goal. Therefore, innovative solutions were created to find a communication method that allowed for a similar experience in years past. “All of our presentations were taught through Nearpod, a slideshow program,” Isabella Espinosa explained. “This program helped the module stay interactive and have both MSO and physical students be able to participate in conversations as well as learn. HIP continued to impact many students as well as stay engaging even though we taught the program in a hybrid mode. I had an amazing board that helped make the program better and make sure everything was running smoothly. Our sponsor, Mr. Hamid, made sure to help us in any way we needed him. This year was different from what we were used to but I believe we all did a great job and I couldn’t be prouder of us and HIP!”
Though HIP looked differently this year, it was still able to stay true to its purpose and was resilient during these times. The reason why HIP is important, especially for our falcons, relies on the idea of working together and community. “I believe that HIP is important for freshmen and PHEs because high school is difficult and learning to adapt doesn’t end after the 9th grade,” Sofia Pinero remarks. “I think that what HIP is trying to accomplish is to inspire younger students to develop a healthy lifestyle through peer instruction because no one wants to hear an adult speak about uncomfortable topics. Listening to someone who’s only a few years older and has already gone through many of these experiences helps them know that they aren’t alone.”
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