In its second year at Blake, Sources of Strength (SOS) has made changes including increasingly regular activities and campaigns and a different Adult-Peer Leader structure in hopes of reaching and spreading their positive message to more students.
Because their Healthy Activities Week received a lot of participation last year, SOS has made it their goal to hold activities more often to better support students. This year they are incorporating a variety of activities like karaoke, slam poetry, mediation, walks, coloring, and nap days almost every week. “Doing stuff once a year isn’t really [achieving] what we’re setting out to do,” says English resource teacher and SOS Adult Advisor Michael Kelley.
Hoping it will lead to a more productive year, SOS also changed their organization by dividing their Peer Leader teams into smaller ones, including the Karaoke Team, Weekly Wellness Team, and two campaign teams. “It was really hard to plan anything [with] 50 kids in the room. Putting them into individual teams has helped break apart the responsibilities and actually plan without it being chaos.” says social studies teacher and SOS Co-Chair Stephanie Staub.
These changes are all in an effort to make positive behaviors and supportive practices a part of the school norm. A big goal for SOS, physical education resource teacher and SOS Co-Chair Christine DiMonte says, “[is] changing the school environment so that everybody feels that they have a place here, a person to go to, a place to be safe, [and] people who will listen to them and love them for exactly who they are.”
By offering different activities, both quiet and more rambunctious, SOS is attempting to address the needs of all students. “Some kids . . . are very stressed out and so the quiet activities are really a way for them to decompress for a few minutes,” says Ms. Staub. “Whereas [with] karaoke we’re trying to promote positive friends on the wheel [and] trying to get people to have fun and make the school community feel a little more bonded.”
Despite these efforts, activities have had varied success. Karaoke has garnered a lot of participation, usually filling the amphitheatre when it is held. On the other hand, quieter activities like meditation and the monthly walk, have not received as much participation as hoped. “We have good ideas; we’re just missing student participation,” says Ms. DiMonte.
Given all these changes and improvements, SOS still has many more goals to achieve; some of which are to make their campaigns and activities more meaningful, increase the popularity of their quiet activities, and continue making Blake a safer and more positive place for students.