Promoting Connections and Focusing on Strengths

This week, the Corvallis School District is launching Sources of Strength, a program that uses a proactive model for suicide prevention. The program has been recognized as a best practice by national health care agencies and is designed to strengthen peer social networks in an effort to change unhealthy norms and culture. The program empowers student peer leaders to connect with each other along with staff advisors to change social norms around seeking help, creating a culture of empowerment, hope, and gratitude.

The program kicks off in the Corvallis School District with a training session for staff advisors, who are committed to support, mentor, and assist peer leaders in spreading hope, help, and strength-based messages across their friendship networks. A training will follow the staff session for high school students who will become peer leaders at their school. As a peer leader, students will be enabled to help change the culture in their school community with a strengths based message, positive campaigns in the schools.

“We are pleased to get this program started in our high schools,” shared Student Support Specialist Chris Hawkins. “It will really empower students to bring that strength of hope in their community and will give them a way to break the code of silence. This is a very powerful tool that we can use to prevent suicide, bullying, and substance abuse.”

Once staff advisors and students have completed their training, school teams will meet to develop a campaign for the remainder of this year. Students will focus on one of the eight sources of support highlighted in the program to develop a school-wide campaign. The strengths identified in the program include family support, generosity, healthy activities, medical access, mental health, positive friends, mentors, and spirituality.

According to Ms. Hawkins, “This program will empower our students. It will give a platform for all kids to get involved in positive projects in their school community. We are grateful for funding for this program through grants from the Benton Community Foundation and Corvallis Public Schools Foundation.”