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Group honored for its peer health efforts

April 24, 2013 12:00AM

A Pittsburg State University peer health initiative was recognized recently for its efforts in the field of prevention and wellness.

“Do The Gorilla Thing,” a program of the PSU Gorillas In Your Midst peer education group, won the Excellence for Outstanding Program award at the April 6 Meeting of the Minds conference in Kansas City.

Meeting of the Minds: Networking for Success in Prevention is a regional prevention and health education conference for college and university peer educators, their advisers, administrators, and campus and community law enforcement.

“Do The Gorilla Thing” was also awarded Outstanding PSU Program at the Leadership & Awards Banquet April 10 at the Overman Student Center. The campaign is a campuswide program that translates to “Do The Right Thing” when it comes to diversity, vision, honor, academics and leadership, according to Gorillas In Your Midst adviser J.T. Knoll. The program aims to educate PSU students, particularly incoming freshmen, about substance abuse, mental health, stress management and bystander behavior.

“The purpose of this program is to have students take pride in being a Gorilla and associating being a Gorilla with doing the right thing,” said Tambree Wilson, student coordinator of the group.

“The program has had a tremendous impact on campus. So many students now associate ‘Do The Gorilla Thing’ with doing the right thing.”

Wilson was awarded the Wintle Scholarship for Outstanding Leadership and Academic performance at the April 10 Leadership and Awards Banquet.

Knoll, who was named outstanding adviser at the Meeting of the Minds Conference, said it’s the students who deserve all of the credit for the group’s success.

“As I told the organizer of the conference, you’re only as good as the students you have in your program,” he said, “and I have a group that makes me look good.”

Gorillas In Your Midst is a nationally-affiliated peer health education group that offers educational, peer theater and interactive programs on topics such as: alcohol and other drugs, STD's, HIV/AIDS, contraception, suicide, smoking cessation, eating disorders, diversity, stress management, and bystander behavior.

Along with receiving two top honors, representatives from Gorillas In Your Midst served as presenters at the Meeting of the Minds conference. Students presented on the group’s “14” campaign, which brought awareness of the prevalence of HIV, addressed stigma and encouraged testing on the PSU campus.

Members of a sister group, Students for Violence Prevention, also presented at the conference on its Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness programming.

“This was quite an honor for both groups to be selected to present at the conference,” Knoll said.

©2013 Pittsburg State University