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Summer Welcome teaches wellness through skits

Monday, June 23, 2008 | 8:39 p.m. CDT; updated 11:43 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
From left, Ben Dillon and Jenna Jordan fake a discussion as Sarah Scroggs, Amy Williams and Lindsey Nelson act out a skit about alcohol consumption during Summer Welcome for MU.

COLUMBIA — Question: Is MU one of the top 10 party schools? Are there free condoms around campus? What’s the phone number for Stripes driving service?

Answers, in order: No, yes and 442-9672.

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Those are just three of the questions addressed in the opening scene of a Summer Welcome wellness skit. Summer Welcome brings to campus thousands of students who plan to start school at MU in the fall. Part of being an incoming freshman means watching MU peer educators act out typical scenarios that teach the fundamentals of campus safety, personal health and diversity.

The peer educator groups that do the skits are a veritable alphabet soup of organizations, including PASS (Peers Advocating Smoke-Free Solutions), ADAPT-PAWS (Alcohol Drug Abuse Prevention Team-Peers Advocating Wellness Solutions), SHAPE (Sexual Health Advocate Peer Education), MARS (Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault), STAR (Stronger Together Against Rape) and the LGBTQ Resource Center. The Rape Peer Educators also perform.

The main goal is to educate incoming students both with content from the skits, and the knowledge that they too can get involved in the peer education groups. With so little time — just one hour — to cover so many issues, the peer educators focus on making the skits as entertaining, yet informative as possible, co-director Struby Struble said.

The subjects are serious: alcohol poisoning, designated driving, sexual consent, stalking and stereotyping. The skits alternate between serious and funny, with frequent references to Frank the Tank, the “fratastic” frat boy who drinks a lot.

The peer educators are chosen through an application process in April, and begin rehearsal in May to put on the skits for the students who come through Summer Welcome.

“We generally use the same skits each year, although this year we added a line here and there about mental health within certain scenes,” Kourtney Mitchell, an actor this summer and a rape peer educator, said. Each actor may alter his or her lines to make them more their own in voice and sense of humor, and there’s a little improvisation.

Judging by the laughter, the Summer Welcome students who filled up Conservation Auditorium in MU’s Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building on Monday afternoon gave the wellness skit high marks for comedy. Discussions afterward took a serious turn as peer educators talked about their own experiences on campus.

What doesn’t the audience see?

“A dance party backstage,” actor Jenna Jordan said.


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