Sources of Strength, a nationwide program that came to MCPS schools including this one two years ago, was restarted on Nov. 29.
The program is based on the idea that students can use social networks to change unhealthy norms, especially ones that exist in school, and in doing so they will help to prevent the amount of bullying and suicide. The mission is, according to the Sources of Strength website, “to provide the highest quality evidence-based prevention for suicide, violence, bullying and substance abuse by training, supporting, and empowering both peer leaders and caring adults to impact their world through the power of connection, hope, help and strength.”
The program believes that there are eight core categories, represented in the Sources of Strength wheel, that a person can draw strength from: family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, generosity, spirituality, medical access and mental health.
Students from all grades were nominated for the group and they, along with the staff members in the group, engaged in an all-day training in late November. The training, which took place in the lower gym, was lead by a Sources of Strength trainer. Throughout the day participants talked about why the program is important, what the different categories include, what they look like for the individual people and what each person draws strength from. Students also discussed how to recognize warning signs in their peers and how to connect them to help. In between the conversations, students and staff also played games designed to show how chaotic life can be when struggling with depression and anxiety.
“I thought it was a really interesting day,” sophomore Hiruni Mendries said. “I really enjoyed learning about the program and I think that the group’s goals, to spread awareness and let people know that others are there when you need them, are really good ones.”
During the day students also brainstormed campaigns designed to help boost morale and work on one of the sections in the Sources of Strength wheel. The group is planning on putting on these campaigns throughout the year.
Sources of Strength was originally started here in January 2015 in response to the deaths in spring 2014. The group fell apart when it became apparent that none of the campaigns were being carried out. Only three students from the 2015 training remained involved in the group and attended the November training.
Teachers and staff members, including Crystal Dovman, Roberts Kurtz and Michael Kim, are also a part of the program as advisors and adults who students can be connected to when they need help.
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