SHAPE Retreat 2022

Each June, Teen emPower! hosts a retreat for high school students who will be our peer educators for the SHAPE (Sexual Health And Peer Education) program in the coming school year.

The newcomers, freshly recruited each spring, get a better understanding of the program and the expectations for being a peer educator. The returning members get the chance to enhance their leadership and team-building skills, all while engaging with sexual health professionals and guest speakers throughout the week.

It’s an excellent opportunity for the youth to connect with adults who work with health-promotion efforts in the community and their peers from other schools. It’s a week-long dive into sexual health topics and presentation skills. It’s a bit of their summer that these outstanding young people choose to dedicate to improving the health of young teens in our community. The SHAPE retreat always leaves students, staff and our volunteers feeling refreshed and ready to advance our collective mission of empowering, motivating and educating youth. 

This year’s SHAPE retreat featured a public health professional, Christina Eskridge, MPH, who is also an actor and director. She combines theater and health, and facilitated lessons for the peer educators on the importance of storytelling as a strategy for health promotion and teaching about health with creativity and confidence.

“The SHAPE program is incredible and so supportive of both the peer educators and the students they work with. I’m honored to have been a small part in such an innovative and successful program and week-long engagement with young people!

You all truly thought of everything, from the snacks and hygiene kits, to the detailed agenda and wonderful guest speakers. Not only did I have a blast working with the students, but I also truly enjoyed learning from them and the other facilitators. I’m truly humbled by the impact you all have, and this world is lucky to have each of you.”

Christina Eskridge, Founder and Executive Director of Elevate Theater for Health

To help the peer educators learn the skills they will use presenting SHAPE lessons in the classroom, speakers at the retreat include experienced middle school teachers, college professors, nonprofit directors and public health professionals. They help educate our students on the importance of preparing for your class, engaging students in the lessons, finding confidence in your body language and general classroom management. They also educate our students on overall sexual health topics, providing one of the most important lessons in life which is also a Teen emPower! mantra: knowledge is power.

The peer educators always enjoy their time together and many use the skills they learned during the retreat in other organizations and activities outside of SHAPE. Through the activities and group presentations they are tasked with preparing, they develop cooperation skills and learn how to communicate effectively.

“I love everyone here so much! I felt very loved and cared about all week, and I feel like I learned a lot about stage (speaking) presence and about sexual health in general!”

2022/23 Peer Educator retreat participant

The annual SHAPE retreat is a meaningful time for Teen emPower! because it kick-starts the peer educator experience for the year. The students are from various schools in Oklahoma City, Del City and Midwest City, and they come ready to help other young people make healthy life choices. Their decisions and actions, starting with attending retreat, carry an impact into the community by helping educate other youth about skills and sexual health knowledge that is important now and for a lifetime.

Check out the highlights on our SHAPE instagram page to see the activities from SHAPE Retreat 2022!