Stoplight mixer promotes a safe Valentine’s Day

The+Appalachian+Online

The Appalachian Online

Kelsey Hamm

The Wellness Peer Educators held a stoplight mixer and dance Feb. 11 at 8:30 p.m. in Whitewater Cafe in Plemmons Student Union. Attendees were encouraged to wear Mardi Gras beads in different colors – red for those who are taken, green for singles and yellow for those just looking for friends.

Wellness peer educators Julie Blakesmith, Tyler Shaffer, and Sam Lambiase hosted the event.

“As educators, we host programs that promote safe alcohol use, safe sex, good nutrition and general wellness,” said Lambiase, a senior nutrition major. “This is an alcohol free event where people can get to know each other before Valentine’s Day. We’re also here advertising for recruitment, because applications for 2015 peer wellness educators are due on March 1.”

In addition to the stoplight mixer, the wellness peer educators host events such as “Nutrition 101,” “Condom Bingo,” “Party Smart” and “Safe Spring Break,” said Blakesmith, a junior political science major. In “Party Smart,” students learn about standard size drinks and their effects on blood alcohol levels.

“It’s not that we’re naïve,” Blakesmith said. “We’re not saying, ‘Don’t you dare drink,’ but this is about promoting a safe environment within our existing college environment. We also teach signs of alcohol poisoning and about the medical amnesty policy.”

Lambiase agreed with Blakesmith and said if you choose to drink underage, you can use the Wellness Peer Educators’ safe tips, but don’t advise or promote the activity nonetheless.

“Drinking is mainly for those who are 21-and-up, choose to drink, and choose to drink safely,” Lambiase said.

Shaffer, a junior health promotion major said the educators also encourage good fitness, sleeping habits, stress management and on-campus resources.

“We inform students about resources that they might not have heard about before,” Lambiase said. “We have a dietician on campus in the wellness center, and the center also holds substance abuse counseling. We have the career development center, and other resources that relate to health even if they don’t seem to.”

Students often act in unhealthy ways because of misinformation about college statistics, Blakesmith said.

“Often students receive completely wrong statistics and information about who is actually participating in unhealthy activities,” Blakesmith said. “It’s easy to think it’s a norm and it’s honestly not. The amount of students who party unhealthily is not super high, and that’s why we have a whole campaign on campus called ‘Healthier than you think.’”

The peer wellness educators will have an interest meeting on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. in the Rough Ridge room of Plemmons Student Union.

STORY: Kelsey Hamm, Intern A&E Reporter