RFHRumson-Fair Haven Regional High School Special Services Teacher Kevin James works with RFH students as they create a poster displaying positive messages about their lives, school and community during Sources of Strength training.

Press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

On February 18, approximately 80 student members of the RFH Peer Leaders organization at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School joined 16 members of the RFH faculty in a special program entitled “Sources of Strength” training.

According to the website of the nonprofit organization Sources of Strength, SOS 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 mission of Sources of Strength 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,” said Turning the Tides Program Manager and event facilitator Rachel Alvarez in her introduction to the group. “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 also participated in the SOS training. She described it as a fun experience that appeared to have a powerful impact on all involved.

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,” said RFH sophomore and Peer Leader Ben Pelino.

“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,” observed RFH Student Assistance Counselor Suzanne Fico, who also helped organize and participated in the training.