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The following is an edited press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School:
Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School’s (RFH) peer leaders and staffers recently tapped into Sources of Strength training resources to enhance their knowledge of suicide, violence and substance abuse.
Approximately 80 RFH students who are members of the RFH Peer Leaders organization along with 16 faculty members trained in what is dubbed Sources of Strength, or SOS, on Feb. 18.
“Helping students learn how to access their Sources of Strength during life’s challenging moments will help them to build resiliency and improve wellness throughout their lifetimes,” RFH Student Assistance Counselor Suzanne Fico, who helped organize and participated in the training,” said.
Sources of Strength (SOS), according to the organization’s website, “leads in the field of suicide prevention by respecting differences among individuals, communities, and cultures and by drawing out stories of strength and healing.”
The group’s mission, according to the site is “to provide the highest quality prevention for suicide, violence, and substance abuse. This is accomplished by training, supporting, and empowering both peer leaders and caring adults in the school community.”
“We approach prevention in a different way,” Barnabas Health’s Turning the Tides Program Manager and event facilitator Rachel Alvarez said in her introduction to the group at the February training session. “Research has shown that programs like this one work best when people like you — here in this gym right now — learn how to use your own strengths to send positive messages of hope, help, and strength to your peers.”
Jamie Juliano, RFH Child Study Team member and co-advisor to the Peer Leaders, helped organize the event and participated in the SOS training. She described it as a fun experience that appeared to have a powerful impact on all involved.
“It was encouraging to see the students developing creative ideas to spread hope, help, and strength messages to their fellow classmates,” said Juliano. “As one of the adult advisors, I hope to continue helping these students turn their ideas into action so that our whole community can feel the effects of Sources of Strength.”
The group took part of a number of exercises, and learned how to break down communication barriers — or what SOS refers to as codes of silence — to help bring about positive change and also increase the likelihood of peer leaders encouraging their fellow students to seek help when they need it.
“The SOS training makes you think about things in a different way,” RFH sophomore and Peer Leader Ben Pelino said.