Using peer educaion as implementation strategy
HEY! has a longitudinal implementation approach. This approach ensures that students are exposed to the curriculum throughout their high school experience, rather than only during a single session/training. Students study the materials for the first time in 7th grade and then again in 9th grade. Content is catered toward the students’ age; for example, puberty is taught in 7th grade, and SRH is taught in 9th grade. Those same 7th graders eventually become 11th graders. When the 7th graders become 11th graders, they are trained as peer educators to teach materials they studied in 7th and 9th grade. In the long term, students are exposed three times to the curriculum: when they receive it as participants and when they are trained as peer educators, and when they implement the curriculum.
The purpose of implementing the curriculum in three different grades is to reach students during two stages of adolescent development: early (10-13) and middle (14-17) adolescence (Steinberg, 2011). The goal is to address students before they reach critical ages (12-14 for 7th graders) as well as during those critical ages where adolescents are at greater risks of entering unions (15-18 for 9th and 11th graders; see Murphy-Graham et al., 2019).
There are three main advantages with this implementation/training design: a) students are exposed to content relevant to the stage of adolescence they are in, b) students are exposed to this curriculum before and during they reach critical ages where they are most vulnerable to CM and unhealthy relationships, and c) it ensures that once students become peer educators, they are acquainted with the content they facilitate. In this sense, through time, students become both recipients and implementers of the curriculum. Furthermore, although students are the main implementers of this curriculum, they are accompanied and supervised by teachers who also undergo a training process.