MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When you hear that a high school student is “hip” you probably think he or she is fashionably current and in the know.

But many South Florida high school students are “hip” thanks to the Health Information Project, better known as HIP.

Created ten years ago, HIP is a program used in Miami-Dade County Public Schools to train high school juniors and seniors to teach health education to their peers.

Rosa Sanchez, a senior at Miami Southridge High School, underwent brain surgery four years ago and suffered seizures after the operation.

She was one of several HIP Peer Educators to address hundreds of students at HIP Day 2019 at the Wastco Center at the University of Miami.

“When I share my stories with my fellow students, I am making them more aware about their own health issues,” Rosa said.

Erick Flores is also a HIP Peer Educator. Erick was often bullied for being overweight. He credits HIP with turning his life around.

“HIP impacted me by opening my eyes and encouraging me to seek help,” Erick said. “I took my mom to the HIP website and we found information on a nutritionist to help me lose weight.”

For Erick Rivers, HIP was the difference between life and death. Erick said he felt abandoned by his biological parents and suffered from depression.

“I was in a very dark place,” Erick said. “I didn’t feel good about myself and didn’t want to be on this earth. If it wasn’t for HIP I wouldn’t be standing here.”

HIP Director Risa Berrin says the non-profit program helps students connect with health resources and lets them share their knowledge with other students.

She said HIP Day 2019 is an opportunity to showcase the program within the school system.

“We bring together all 1700 of the eleventh and twelfth graders and they teach the HIP curriculum to 3400 ninth graders across the country,” Berrin said.

For more information about the Health Information Project, or HIP, go to their website:

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Eliott Rodriguez