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WCSD launches new peer-led support initiative for high school students


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Over the coming months, Westerville City Schools will be rolling out a new peer-led initiative focused on mental health and suicide prevention/education.

Hope Squad is a school-based program that empowers students to be the ears and eyes of their school. Student advisors receive training that equips them with the knowledge and awareness needed to recognize mental health/suicide warning signs, as well as the procedures to properly report those concerns to an adult in a timely manner. Staff advisors are identified and trained in techniques that support the program as well.

"Kids are already on the front lines of supporting students who are having a mental health crisis,” said Tami Santa, coordinator, Student Well Being and Mental Health. “Hope Squad will equip them with better skills and the tools needed to get that information to a trusted adult for additional support." 

The Hope Squad at each high school will feature staff members who will serve as advisors and as many as 50 student leaders. High schools will begin the process of identifying advisors and providing training and orientation in January. Officials plan to launch the program in August.

The district is fortunate to gain financial support and a long-term commitment for this program from the Westerville Education Challenge community organization.