In 1999, New Haven eliminated its funding for public school health education. In response, six Yale undergraduates founded Community Health Educators (CHE), a group that composes and presents health education workshops in the city’s public middle schools and high schools. These workshops cover a range of topics, including nutrition, substance abuse, sexuality, STIs, contraception, and healthy relationships.
Years after its founding, the CHE program now stands as one of Dwight Hall’s largest student groups, with nearly 200 volunteers presenting workshops in 24 schools. CHE’s founding was an example of the “best practice of community service,” said Claudia Merson, director of Yale’s Public School Partnerships. “It was a direct response to a community request. In the early days, the organization met with the curriculum committee of the New Haven public schools and together collaborated to establish how best to serve the school district.”