Fairview High School in Boulder, CO, in concert with the BCPIP, piloted the Sources of Strength (SOS) program in the spring of 2013. SOS is an evidence-based, nationally recognized strength-based comprehensive wellness program that focuses on suicide prevention, but also impacts other issues such as substance abuse and violence. The program is based on a relational connections model that uses teams of peer leaders mentored by adult advisors to change peer social norms about help seeking and encourages students to individually assess and develop strengths in their life. In February SOS trained 12 adult advisors and 47 peer leaders at Fairview High School to create messages of Hope, Help, and Strength that impacted the entire school community. Examples of SOS activities at Fairview High included the following:
Peer Leaders held an SOS week in March, focusing mainly on the messages, "There are Sources of Strength around us that can help us get through tough times" and "Break the codes of silence! Don't keep suicide a secret - tell a Trusted Adult" through posters, personal conversations, presentations, a video and manning a resource fair table for two days, impacting not only school staff and students, but also adults and youth in the community. In early May, the group put up posters and made presentations in school focusing on "There are Sources of Strength around us that can help us get through tough times."
The results of our efforts, which were evaluated by the University of Rochester in conjunction with Sources of Strength, were quite positive. Two key markers of a successful Sources of Strength program were accomplished this first year: (a) student peer leaders adopted more positive coping norms, which prepares them to disseminate those norms to peers, and (b) peer leaders were engaged, had positive views about the intervention, and led activities to create a healthier school climate supporting positive coping and youth-adult connections.
Funded by Boulder, CO (August 2013)