Peer helpers continue progression

Photo+by+Julia+Bennett

Photo by Julia Bennett

Sophomore Jack Hamond and junior Kelsey Shinkle check in with advisor Michael Kaul every flex time. They are given directions or assignments to have prepared for upcoming meetings.

Julia Bennett, Social Media Editor-In-Chief

Social studies teacher Michael Kaul founded peer helpers last year. Since then, they have not only grown in members but in their work and outreach through the community. With added structure and leadership committees, they hope more students will use peer helpers as a resource for help in the future.

“Peer helpers were already here. In every school there are people that others just naturally go to with problems and concerns. Our goal was to find out who these people were, to find out who naturally has these skills. We want to try to give them support, and train them to help other people as best they can,” Kaul said.

Peer helpers are nominated by other students through an anonymous survey at the beginning of every school year. The advisors receive input from these surveys to find who they believe may be a good fit for the club.

“The hardest part is a selection process, to get the right people that will be committed to this,” Kaul added. “There is a culture in the school where you belong to a club, but you don’t commit. We need people in this group that have those skills and want to help.”

The club’s main goal is to help others within the school. However, members also gain a new perspective and learn how to grow individually.

“I think it has opened my eyes to all the struggles that people go through and the importance of being kind always because it is so easy to hide behind struggles and never have anyone notice when on the inside people could be breaking down,” senior Rebecca Marquez explained.

Committees focusing on training, socialization and marketing were formed within peer helpers to improve the structure of the club. Monthly meetings and gatherings allow members to grow together as a team and improve their communication skills.

“I think it has opened my eyes to all the struggles that people go through and the importance of being kind always because it is so easy to hide behind struggles and never have anyone notice when on the inside people could be breaking down”

— Rebecca Marquez

“The first Monday night of every month we bring in professional speakers to train us and provide information. We also established some leaders this year to lead committees, and a website made by Rebecca Marquez,” Kaul said.

The marketing team was one committee formed this year, led by Rebecca Marquez. They create plans to promote the club and expand their impact within the school.

Marquez explained they focus on “allowing others to get in contact with us easier.”

Becoming a peer helper comes with a great deal of responsibility. It can be challenging to feel responsible for the well being of others, as well as their own.

“We want to help them take care of themselves and not take on everyone’s problems and burden themselves. Healthy people with skills to help others, they are not counselors they are a supportive peer,” Kaul said.

Peer helpers allow students with these skills an accessible way to support other students. They learn how to do what they were already good at, but become better.

“I really like connecting with people because I already do and now it gives me an outlet to do that,” senior Alli Kelm said.

Improvements within the club have allowed more students to receive peer support. They hope to continue their progress in future years to benefit as many students as they can.

“The biggest thing everyone needs to know is that anything you tell us is confidential and will not leave our conversation. Peer Helpers are here to listen, not judge. There are 25 of us, and we are all different. I know that there is at least one that will understand your issue and be able to support you through anything you are going through. We are Peer Helpers because we care about you and want to help, so let us help you,” Marquez explained.