RESPECT Recognized for Outstanding Program for Excellence in Peer Education

On the heels of a successful virtual Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is with much pride that we announced that RESPECT (Rape Education Services by Peers Encouraging Conscious Thought), a multi-award-winning peer education program of the Sexual and Relationship Violence Center of the Pat Walker Health Center has been awarded this year's regional Outstanding Program for Excellence in Peer Education from the NASPA Region IV-W BACCHUS Initiatives.

This year, RESPECT celebrates its 20th anniversary of excellence in peer education with emphasis on addressing sexual violence. From its humble beginnings with six peer educators, RESPECT has emerged as a clear leader in the field of peer education with a long-lasting track record of outstanding presentations, outreach events and programs, and active participation with regional conferences as a trusted and consistent source of presenters. "20 years of excellence" is a significant statement, but one that is rightfully deserved by RESPECT.

In its 20 years of dedicated service, RESPECT has provided 568 documented classroom presentations of which 190 of them were specifically for first year classes. Among these classes, over 10,000 students have been educated about sexual violence through a facilitated conversation that addresses sexual violence by way of understanding definitions, dispelling myths and identifying facts, addressing alcohol and drug-facilitated rape, exploring risk reduction and bystander intervention, and deconstructing rape culture.

In addition to impactful presentations, RESPECT engages in many programs and events, totaling 506 outreach events over the past 20 years. Many of these programs have made incredible contributions and impacts, including the most widely known outreach event known as "What were you wearing? The Survivor Art Installation," which in six years went from an original campus exhibit to a global phenomenon. RESPECT estimates more than 200,000 people engaged with these outreach event on the University of Arkansas campus alone.

"RESPECT lives up to its name daily and encourages students and others to have conscious thought and conversation about sexual violence and its affects," says Dr. Mary A. Wyandt-Hiebert, director of Sexual and Relationship Violence Center and adviser of RESPECT.  "All of this began with a group of six peer educators that I had the honor to work with 20 years ago; and since then 10 more peer educators every year dedicated to addressing sexual and relationship violence. This is what peer education is about. Finding a path, making a difference in students' lives, and continuing on through the test of time."

Makayla Passmore, a RESPECT peer educator for 2 years, states, "peer education is a powerful tool because it allows students to learn about and discuss difficult topics, such as sexual violence, in a more comfortable environment. As students ourselves, we are able to talk to the students that attend our presentations or outreach events on the same level as them, which helps create a space where we all feel we have the ability to speak up and be engaged. As peer educators with RESPECT, we serve as a bridge between the other students on our campus and the resources we have to offer."

About the Sexual and Relationship Violence Center: Sexual and Relationship Violence Center provides education and advocacy programs for the campus community. All victim advocacy services are confidential. SRVC is in dedicated space within the Garland Garage Retail/Office Complex across the street from the Pat Walker Health Center.

About the Pat Walker Health Center: Pat Walker Health Center supports students along their academic journey by providing efficient and convenient access to quality medical care, mental health care, and wellness and health promotion programs and services. The health center strives to enrich the academic and personal development of students by creating an inclusive environment that promotes positive behavior and lifestyle changes. Pat Walker Health Center is a department of the Division of Student Affairs.

About the Division of Student Affairs: The Division of Student Affairs supports students in pursuing knowledge, earning a degree, finding meaningful careers, exploring diversity, and connecting with the global community. We provide students housing, dining, health care resources, and create innovative programs that educate and inspire. We enhance the University of Arkansas experience and help students succeed, one student at a time.

Contacts

Zac Garrett Brown, assistant director of communications
Pat Walker Health Center
479-575-4649, zacharyb@uark.edu

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