Empowering students to help their peers at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School

Empowering students to help their peers at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School photo
Students at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School recently took part in Sources of Strength, a peer leadership program designed to engage teens through the power of connection, hope, help and strength. In its second year at the high school, the program is designed to harness the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy habits and relationships.

The students learned that relying on many sources of strength is more powerful than relying on just one. They broke up into groups, discussing eight key categories: mental health, medical access, spirituality, generosity, healthy activities, mentors, positive friends and family support. They then shared stories and learned skills to strengthen these sources of protection so that when times get hard they can rely on them.

The daylong program was facilitated by two energetic trainers, a representative from Response Crisis Center and social worker Kristin Britt, who advises the program throughout the year and works along with the high school’s two guidance counselors, Kerri Neligon and Kathi Galvin, and school psychologist, Kristen Wendel, who serve as mentors to the students.

According to Janell Anema, a national trainer for the organization, during times of strife students will generally listen more to their friends than to their parents, teachers or other adults and the skills the attendees acquired during the training will aid them in becoming change agents for promoting positive peer relationships.

The students will work on projects throughout the year that will include powerful messages for poster campaigns, cafeteria activities and videos for social media.