Hope, Help, and Strength
Ella Presher ’14
Life is not always "smooth sailing." It can be rocky or dark, and you can feel as though you are drowning. The new Sources of Strength program at SI helps us highlight and strengthen the forces in life that bring us joy and encouragement. This year will be the program’s first full year to bring positive change to our school. Drawing on the ideas of the Peer Assistance program, which it replaces, Sources of Strength attempts to use peer leadership and positive messaging to bring SI students strength in hard times.
Sources of Strength (SOS) is a national program that specializes in the prevention of suicide, violence, and substance abuse. It teaches students to draw on their "sources of strength," such as positive friends, mentors, and healthy activities for support instead of turning to self-harm. The SOS literature states, "Many strengths are more powerful than one, and our united goal is to activate and mobilize these strengths in ways that positively change individuals and communities."
The key to the program's success lies in the collaboration of peer leaders and trusted adults. In its mission statement, SOS emphasizes "supporting and empowering both peer leaders and caring adults to impact their friendship networks...to maximize health and protection in the real world." Peer leaders deliver "Hope, Help, and Strength" messages through social networking that focus on breaking "codes of silence" that surround suicide and self-harm. The organizaion increases a spirit of unity.
SOS is a program "by the students, for the students," Lauren Tetrev '14, one of the student leaders, stated. She explained that the students in SOS brainstorm and plan the activities because they can truly empathize with other students and know which projects will best reach the student body. "We don't care how well you do in your classes or in a sport," she added. "We care about you as a person and as a friend." According to student leader Scott Wu '14, the program will "focus on building up our community, from freshmen to seniors. SOS is not just for people to talk about their problems; it attempts to create a comfort zone and make SI feel like a second home."
Mr. Michael Thomas, who directs the Peer Assistance program, states, "We have nothing like this program at SI that pairs students with adults in order to create mutual trust which could possibly save lives."
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