Youth Health Educator

Project Description

This year, Peace Corps Belize is celebrating its 60th year of providing support and resources through grassroots Volunteer assignments. Over 2,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Belize since the program began in 1962, and staff and Volunteers work in close partnership with the Belizean government, host agencies, communities, and counterparts in the spirit of promoting world peace and friendship.

The Youth Health and Well-Being Project in Belize is unique in that it gives Volunteers the opportunity to collaborate with school-based counterparts to address priority youth health related issues. These working relationships often become the foundation from which successful activities are implemented under the project’s framework. Over the years, Peace Corps’ approach to development has had proven impacts in the lives of community members and returned Volunteers have maintained the strong working relationships and respect they have for their Belizean hosts.

Peace Corps Belize's Youth Health and Well-Being Project has one goal: To support Belizean youth to lead healthy and empowered lives to realize their full potential into adulthood.

Volunteers work alongside teachers and other school-based counterparts to carry out Belize’s national youth health priorities through targeted activities in schools. These activities focus on youth, ages six to 14. Volunteers and counterparts participate in promoting knowledge exchange for a lasting and measurable impact.

Specific activities Volunteers collaborate on include:
• Co-teaching the national health and life skills curriculum, physical education, and other designated primary school-based health and well-being activities;
• Co-facilitating gender-equitable clubs and camps for youth ages 6-14;
• Co-training youth health education with families and caregivers; and
• Co-training school-based staff to use innovative and gender equitable techniques to deliver health, life skills, and physical education.

Belize is known for having a stable democracy and forward looking approach to democracy. While Volunteers certainly have an opportunity to experience the natural wonders Belize has to offer, all Volunteers are expected to maintain focus on community integration for their entire service and meet the project objectives in schools and through relevant community-based activities.

Peace Corps Belize Youth Health Educators are dedicated, competent, responsible, respectful, and motivated professionals. As Peace Corps Belize maintains a high level of community, counterpart, and government support. Individuals willing to commit to the project, Peace Corps’ Core Expectations, and who fully dedicate their time, effort, and energy to service will ultimately be successful throughout their time in Belize.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in primary level classrooms promoting the health, education, or youth sectors and one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will meet one or more of the following criteria:
• A degree in Social Science, Education, Public Health, or Exercise Science
• Professional experience in the classroom educating on topics such as: healthy lifestyle; health education; gender equality, youth life skills, as well as parent engagement
• Experience working in underserved communities with limited resources
• Experience utilizing and designing course content on the Moodle platform
• Experience as a trainer in facilitating the exchange of knowledge and skills to adults
• Background working with children under the age of 14 in schools clubs, camps or after school programs

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Although Belize is a small country, it has an expansive and diverse ethnic, cultural, and language environment. Trainees are trained in one of two local languages: Kriol or Spanish. Volunteers should be flexible and open to learning any one of the two languages. Trainees will be tested on their language proficiency levels at intervals during Pre-Service Training and at specific intervals during their Volunteer service. Trainees will be required to meet the established standards of the language they are being taught during Pre-Service Training in order to be sworn in as a Volunteer.

Local language skills are necessary for Volunteers to carry out their health-related work assignment. Language is also critical for a Volunteer's personal safety and cultural integration purposes. Peace Corps Belize will support a Volunteer’s language acquisition throughout their service. Prior Spanish knowledge can be a benefit for Trainees and Volunteers, but is not a requirement for this program.

Living Conditions

Belize is a tropical country with two seasons: dry season and rainy season. The rainy season is also aligned with the hurricane season, which runs from June to November.

Volunteers live and work in communities that range in population from 750 to 25,000+ inhabitants. Some communities may have access to modern amenities and conveniences. Most communities have access to electricity, indoor plumbing, and centralized water supplies, but Volunteers often work in hot and humid conditions with little or no access to air conditioned facilities. A smaller number of communities do not have access to these amenities, and may also use latrines. Volunteers may have to do laundry by hand. Internet service and phone network coverage may be limited depending on the community.

Travel conditions can be rough both during Pre-Service Training and during a Volunteer’s service. Many communities are accessed via dirt roads or uneven terrain prone to flooding during the rainy season. Public transportation in some parts of the country may require long travel hours on school-type buses. In towns, public transportation includes smaller vans called “busitos or dalla vans” and taxis. Bus schedules vary, and there are sometimes abbreviated schedules on weekends and public holidays.

Volunteers in Belize live with host families for the duration of their service. Living with a host family can be a highlight of service, as it can facilitate cultural exchange and integration, language learning, relationships in the community, and increased safety and security. It is important to remember, however, that living with a host family will require an open mind, cultural sensitivity, diplomacy, patience, and great flexibility. This living arrangement also means a loss of personal independence, adhering to curfews, and living in a home with a range of immediate and/or extended family members and domestic animals. Volunteers may be exposed to methods of disciplining children different from what they are accustomed to in the U.S. In many homes, especially in rural communities, gender roles are well defined and different from those in the U.S. Volunteers are expected to be sensitive to these differences. Volunteers will receive support from Peace Corps Belize staff if gender-based challenges arise.

Peace Corps Belize Volunteers reflect the diversity of the United States. Upon arrival at their assigned communities, Volunteers will observe that Belize is just as diverse, with diversity and inclusion principles remaining the same but taking on a different context. Volunteers may be the sole foreigner in their assigned community.

During Pre-Service Training, multiple sessions and guidance will be provided to discuss diversity and inclusion. Homosexuality was recently decriminalized in Belize. However, Belize is a conservative country and Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their best judgment when determining how and if to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and with their work counterparts.

Volunteers should be flexible and willing to adapt to the local foods available in their communities. Vegetarians may encounter difficulties in maintaining a vegetarian diet. Volunteers should not expect host families to cater foods outside of what is typically eaten in a Belizean home. Most Volunteers find the basic diet of Belizean families to be sufficient for their nutritional needs.

In Belize, tattoos are sometimes associated with involvement in criminal or delinquent activity. Likewise, having visible body piercings may make it more difficult to integrate into a host community. Peace Corps Belize staff recommend that Volunteers adhere to the generally conservative Belizean norms when it comes to personal appearance and attire, especially for all work and official activities.

Serving in Belize

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Belize: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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