QHO’s Kingston initiative is unique in that it runs analogously throughout the school year from October to April. Peer Educators are hired in the early fall and immediately undergo concentrated ‘crash course’ training, where they are prepared by their Initiative Directors, QHO’s Executive Team, and other experts in the fields of health and education. PEs continue their training throughout the year as well, attending initiative specific meetings and relevant QHO-wide education sessions. The Kingston initiative works with a variety of age groups (from upper elementary to high school), and in a variety of learning environments including alternate classrooms and most recently in the 2019-20 school year, has expanded its scope to include a partnership with a retirement home.
The Kingston initiative focuses on health topics relevant to the Kingston community on a needs-basis, achieved through consultation with stakeholders. Past topics have included sexual health and puberty, mental health, substance use and abuse, communication and leadership, healthy eating habits, and goal setting to sustain a healthy lifestyle. One of the highlights of the Kingston initiative is the length of time that Peer Educators get to spend in each classroom; PEs get to establish truly peer-to-peer relationships with their students over the course of the school year, lending to the effectiveness of health discussion and sustainability of the initiative as a whole.
Each year the Kingston initiative looks to foster its existing relationships within the Kingston community, and is always open to expanding its reach through new partnerships.