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Health Educator Spotlight: Justin Balido

Justin Balido is a Health Educator at Health Connected and our Youth Advisory Board Coordinator. He earned his BA from Stanford University in Human Biology in 2013, with a concentration in Global and Community Health Promotion. During his time at Stanford, he worked as a Peer Health Educator and Residential Assistant, mentoring freshmen and helping them achieve their academic and personal goals. Justin has been at Health Connected since 2013 and works with the Sequoia Teen Wellness Center to coordinate our joint Youth Advisory Board.

1. Why did you get into health education?

I got into health education by accident. I was applying to be an RA, residential assistant, in the dorm I was a freshman in and I didn’t get that position. However, the peer health educator position opened up and they offered me that one. I decided to take that position and found out that I really enjoyed it a lot more than I would the RA position. In addition, I got involved with Stanford’s Health Promotion Initiatives which led me here to this job.

2. What is your favorite program to teach and why?

I would have to say Puberty Talk. I think at that age there hasn’t been a lot of misinformation given to them and they start off with a lot more of an even playing field then when you get to middle school and high school where there is a lot more disengagement. In puberty talk everything is really new and novel to them and I really enjoy seeing them learn about it. Seeing them grow out of their awkwardness I think is also interesting.

3. What is the best question you’ve had to answer from one of your students?

One of my favorite questions was when a 5th grader asked me: "My aunt is divorced and she has twins, how did that happen?" And I said "Well okay, sometimes an egg can split into two or sometimes two eggs can be released in one month." However, that was not her question. She was wondering how a person can get pregnant while being divorced and I thought it was a very cute question in the sense that it was very innocent.

4. What is one message around sexual health you would like to send to young people?

I would like young people to talk to their trusted adults and communicate to them about anything they’re going through or ask any questions they may have. Some teens feel like they have no one to turn to and can sometimes result in negative health outcomes because of it. So encouraging students to talk and communicate with someone is key.

5. What is your favorite part about teaching sex education?

My favorite part about teaching sex ed is the students. It’s fun because they offer an interesting mix of curiosity and everything is so different from what I grew up and was in their shoes.

6. Did you have sex ed as a teen? If so, how was it for you?

Yes, I had a few sex ed programs as a teen which focused on abstinence-only education. The sex education was very academic so I always got good grades however, it was never personally relevant. It consisted of us watching a few videos and having a few discussions but never anything too memorable. It would have been nice to have something like we have now at health connected.

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