Peer leaders help students Find their Sources of Strength

Club connects students with caring adults for support

More stories from Natalie Kuhn



Students in Sources of Strength pose for a group photo with the staff leaders and the trainer on Oct. 26 at the Educational Technology Center (ETC). The training helped students understand how to connect with others to provide a sense of belonging.

In an effort to promote peer leadership and support within the building, counselor Jana Crittenden, along with other staff members, is introducing a new program focused on bringing a peer-support group to Newton High.

Sources of Strength is a program based around showcasing the strengths that students already express in their day-to-day lives and to promote a positive environment in schools and enable peer-led support.

“I think we demonstrate a lot of healthy activities and I think that we’ve got a lot of positive friend groups that are happening so I think we see a lot of that already,” Crittenden said. “I think we also see a lot of family support, because open house is very well attended, student activities are also very well attended.”

A large part of Sources of Strength is not only involving students that seek help, but the peer leaders who direct the needed attention. Peer leaders are selected from a multitude of student groups to compel any student to seek guidance and resources from the leaders. Sophomore Elijah Redington is one of the selected student leaders who is involved in many activities including STAND and Student Council (StuCo).

“When it was brought to our attention there was a whole bunch of people in STAND that also said they wanted to join it,” Redington said.

The program is based around the belief that a healthy lifestyle is made up of eight sources of strength: access to mental care, mental health, positive friends, family support, generosity, spirituality, healthy activity and mentors. Each source is intended to be easily assisted by a peer leader or an advisor. Drawing attention to the connections is designed to positively change and empower individuals and communities.

“Even though every single person is from a different group or clique of the school, we got to all know each other more, and all felt like we all belong together in a group,” Redington said.
According to about 10 percent of the student body should participate as peer leaders. Similar to Elijah Redington, senior Chelsie Penner is one of the peer leaders participating.

“It’s a way to make sure people feel that there isn’t a time that you feel like you need to give up. Like you always have an alternative option,” Penner said.

The program is planning to start slow then increase involvement to avoid losing significance in the school. Sources of Strength is designed to slowly and steadily reduce bullying, suicide, violence and substance abuse by youth in communities.

“It’s like, you might not even see the finished product. What it’s impacted in the school by the time we’re all graduated too, but we’re showing and making a difference. And then, if we were to come back we’d see a big difference. So it’s progressive,” Redington said.