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Reunited and It Feels So Good!

Sunday, 23 January 2022 13:12

In 1993, Tameyer Evans was a sixth-grader at Coan Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia.

She was one of 10 students selected to participate in a Peer Helper program sponsored by the Georgia Department of Human Resources and implemented through the DeKalb County Board of Health's Health Education Department.

Patricia Patrick, now Public Health Analyst for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's School Health Branch, was a Community Health Educator and Trainer with the DeKalb County Board of Health. She was one of four professionals leading the program.

"The goal was to help these students become certified peer health educators," Patricia said. "We taught them facts about puberty, teen pregnancy prevention, anti-smoking promotion and general adolescent health information. We wanted students to know how to protect themselves and how to share correct health education messages with their peers so they could have healthy futures. We gave them work experience and a skill building training program so they could educate others."

The program met once a week during the school year and every weekday during the summer.

"The students were part of our workforce in the summer. When they went back to school, the office was way too quiet," Patricia said. "I'm like a parent. You're not to suppose to have favorites, but of course, I had a favorite. Tameyer was very eager to learn, very outspoken and very confident sharing information with her peers. We were supportive of all 10 students, but we spent additional time with Tameyer because of her interest and excitement."

After the program, Tameyer continued on to high school and then Georgia Southern University, where she focused on Community Health Education. She attended Georgia State University, where she completed a Master of Public Administration program with a concentration in policy analysis and evaluation.

Today, she's the Program Manager of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services' Afterschool Care Program.

Her public health journey started with Patricia's mentorship in 1993, but the two lost touch after the youth program concluded.

Until NAA's Annual Convention in 2017 when they were reunited.

"I was looking at the roster for Georgia, and I thought, I recognize that name," Patricia said. "I went over and tapped her on the back, and she looked over her shoulder like, 'Who's tapping me on the back?'"

Then, the screaming and hugging began.

Tameyer notes it was an opportunity to tell Patricia the influence she had on her career path and life. "The expectation of greatness was given to us that they believed we could do great things. The support in the program helped us be successful down the line."

"There was nothing they couldn't do," Patricia added. "It was a question of: Will you or won't you?"

Both Patricia and Tameyer attended NAA Convention to make connections and gain resources.

"It turned out to be one of the most enriching experiences for me professionally. It helped me be amongst my people. There are a lot of us focused on making the afterschool space the best it can be," Tameyer said.

"The best opportunity was to see Patricia again and tell her 'thank you.' You never know the impact you have on somebody. We refuse to let that 20-year stretch go by again."

Ready to  join in unity with the OST community for opportunity and find your people? Register for NAA22 today!

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