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Expert Training on Tap for UVI's Peer Educators

Twenty five student peer educators at the University of the Virgin Islands will receive expert training on how to disseminate the facts about HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and hepatitis to their fellow students in sessions planned for Jan. 23 and 24 on the University's St. Thomas campus. Noted educator and public health consultant Dana Williams and Calvin Spinks, both of the Community Wellness Project of St. Louis, will present a program titled "Enhancing your Facilitation Skills to Increase Retention of Program Participants."

The students, 10 from the St. Croix campus and 15 from the St. Thomas campus, spend significant time and effort each semester teaching their peers about the risks of HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and hepatitis, according to UVI's St. Thomas campus Associate Campus Executive Administrator for Student Affairs Dr. Doris Battiste. "The students, primarily sophomores, juniors and seniors, are required to make a minimum of three classroom or residence hall presentations and get involved in at least one community outreach project each semester," Dr. Battiste said. "They teach their peers about the risk factors and also how to protect themselves."

This weekend's training will give the student peer educators an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills, while learning presentation and role playing skills through practice demonstration, Dr. Battiste added.

Williams, the weekend's lead instructor, is the co-founder and executive director of the Community Wellness Project. She has worked in the field of HIV/AIDS/STDS since 1987 and has wide experience in providing capacity building assistance to community based and AIDS service organizations, and to state and local health departments around the country. As a public health consultant, she has extensive experience in writing, developing, implementing and evaluating many HIV/AIDS/STD programs and training curricula.

Williams has worked with the Capacity Building Branch of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and assisted in curriculum development for the Popular Opinion Leader, Sisters Informing Sisters about Topics on AIDS and the Real AIDS Prevention Project groups. She is one of the original curriculum developers for the American Red Cross African American HIV/AIDS Instructor course and is certified as a master-level trainer for the American Red Cross HIV/AIDS Instructor course. She has served as a volunteer for the American Red Cross for over 15 year and has officiated on many local and national advisory boards.

Williams attended Pittsburgh University, and has years of experience in managing federally funded grants and contracts. She continues to serve as a national training partner for the Center for Disease Control, the Office of Minority Health and the Office of Women's Health, and other federally, funded agencies.

Calvin Spinks is the Director of Training and Programs for the Community Wellness Project. He has developed enhanced skills in curriculum development and training through his experience working on various CDC or state funded projects, including the Popular Opinion Leader Training, Prevention for Positives and High Risk Negatives Training and Many Men, Many Faces Training. Spinks has also been heavily involved in curriculum piloting, facilitation and evaluation.

The two-day training is sponsored by the Office of the Associate Campus Administrator on St. Thomas and supported by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, through McFarland and Associates, Inc. of Maryland.