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December 20, 2012
Heather Boyle is a School Counselor at Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, Georgia.
Hillgrove High School in Cobb County, Georgia has been using the Sources of Strength suicide prevention program for the last 3 years.
Sources of Strength focuses on identifying Peer Leaders spreading the message of hope, help, and strength. At the start of every school year, students are asked to complete a survey listing two students who they would talk to if they had a problem. The names that are mentioned most often are invited to be trained in the SOS Program. In the training students learn that we all have access to eight different sources of strength: family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, generosity, spirituality, medical access, and mental health. By building up these strengths, students will find the strength to get help when stuck in unhealthy or even life threatening situations. One of the steps involved in the program is for students to identify Trusted Adults.
Trusted Adults are individual adults that students feel connected to and trust. They can talk to them and would go to them if a friend is struggling emotionally. These adults are not necessarily directly involved in the Sources of Strength program but they can be a valuable resource in knowing whom students are talking to and trust. Every year we ask students to tell us who their trusted adults are at Hillgrove. Inevitably we have students who say “no one.”
This year our Peer Leaders wanted to tackle the issue of students feeling like there isn’t an adult at Hillgrove to trust by a featuring a Trusted Adult of the Week. So we surveyed students and asked them to nominate adults who they trust at Hillgrove High School. These adults’ names showed up over and over on the student survey. We make an announcement on Monday mornings introducing the week’s Trusted Adult. We hang an “SOS Trusted Adult of the Week” banner over their door. Announcements and reminders continue through the week, reminding students who the featured adult is. A picture is taken of the trusted adult and of one of the students who identified them. The picture is shown all week on the closed circuit televisions around school. We end the week with an announcement thanking the trusted adult and telling students that there are trusted adults all around.
We are proud of this initiative for numerous reasons. The students look forward to seeing their friends on the closed circuit TV’s. Students also want to know if their “trusted adult” is going to be featured. By including a picture of the nominating students, their peers might be surprised by who kids are making connections with and may reconsider their own thoughts on the adults in the building. Ultimately, we want kids to feel safe, supported, and connected to several sources of strength.
Picture: Trusted Adult of the Week, Ms. Hildreth and student Josh. Ms. Hildreth teaches BIology and Anatomy. She also coaches the dance team and sponsors the Pre-Med Club.
Read It activity will be shared on Facebook