WARSAW — On Oct. 17 and 18, Warsaw Community High School trained 58 peer leaders and 28 adult advisors to continue the implementation of the social-emotional wellness initiative “Sources of Strength.” This initiative started during the 2018-19 school year and continues to grow.
Sources of Strength is an evidence-based suicide prevention program that harnesses the power of peer leader influence to change social norms and culture. Sources of Strength promotes help-seeking behaviors, connection to trusted adults and development of protective factors that help reduce risk of suicide, bullying and substance abuse.
“Sources of Strength helps equip our staff and students with a toolbox of strengths to lean upon every day,” said Sarah Graham, co-director of counseling at WCHS and certified trainer for Sources of Strength. “I love how the program helps us share stories of triumph and resiliency. It enables us to better connect in a way that can pour hope and healing into those around us. It is also a way to check ourselves and hold ourselves accountable to continually work on our own wellness and positive circle of influence.”
The day of training consisted of team-building games, small and large group sharing, teaching about the eight core strengths that can build protective factors and positive messaging campaign planning. The positive messaging campaigns will be shared and implemented with the entire student body at WCHS throughout the school year.
“Learning all the ways I can develop my own sources of strength, such as healthy activities, was a phenomenal lesson,” said Randrea Owen, WCHS teacher and adult advisor for Sources of Strength. “I loved spending time with staff and students learning how we all can utilize our different strengths in life to help ourselves and help others.”
“The Sources of Strength training was one of the best ways to talk about mental health and suicide prevention because it was a calm, close setting with a mix of fun and games, but also serious content,” said Piper Ellis, WCHS student and peer leader for Sources of Strength.
“I appreciate that Sources of Strength focuses on suicide prevention from a proactive and positive approach,” said Megan Dinse, WCHS teacher and Sources of Strength adult advisor. “The day was filled with some fun and silliness for both teachers and students, but I also learned useful take-away information I had not thought of before.”
Gina Courtois and Sarah Graham, certified trainers for Sources of Strength, recently shared about the program at the Kosciusko County Systems of Care meeting with 20 local agencies represented. They provided education on the eight core strengths and the members participated in an interactive presentation about the upstream prevention and identified their own sources of strength.
“Ultimately, the goal is to engage the community in a county-wide effort to build strengths into the students and community,” said Gina Courtois, WCS social-emotional learning coordinator. “We’re excited about the progress that we’ve been able to make so far and we’re hopeful that other community partners will join in our efforts.”