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Chadwick School - 26800 S Academy Drive, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA - (310) 377-1543

Opinions

Volume 65 Number 4

Peer Mentors respond to your FAQs

by Lydia Krauss and Erin Nordlund - 2015-02-19

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How do you view Peer Mentors? How do you want the Chadwick community to view you?

Lydia Krauss: I see Peer Mentors as, just like any club, a group of students who come together to discuss and develop a common interest. Just like CSAB works to organize service events and Wells Bring Hope works to fundraise the building of wells in West Africa, Peer Mentors works towards a goal of our own. We aim to create a support system of students for students. The skills we work to develop are rooted not in advice- giving but rather helping someone (including ourselves) think through difficult situations. None of the students claim to be mental health experts, but skills such as attentive listening, asking meaningful questions, and empathy are concrete tools that everyone, Peer Mentor or not, can use to be supportive of someone in a tough spot.

To answer the question’s second part, we don’t want the Chadwick community to view the program as “you.” Every student, both “within” and “outside” the program, has the capacity to be a good friend and develop these skills. In fact, our workshops, almost every other Thursday during 7th period, have become open to anyone who wishes to work on personal and communal wellness skills. We have maintained a formal group with an application process because we spend quite a bit of time and energy developing the events we create--such as Middle School advisory groups, life skills classes, flow nights and the talent show--and it’s challenging to efficiently run these activities without a smaller group of committed members. The application process aims to keep us accountable for our responsibilities.

Erin Nordlund: I agree! On another note, I feel sad when I hear people label Peer Mentors as students who think they are “perfect.” The group is, of course, made up of imperfect people interested in more strategically working towards helping to create a more cohesive community of happier, healthier individuals. Similar to any campus activity, some members remain more genuinely invested in the program’s mission than others, and that’s fine. I’m proud of the Peer Mentor mission and to be at a school that prioritizes learning how to take care of ourselves and others.

We understand that Peer Mentors is a program to help our peers, but what steps are actually taken in order to help those peers?

Nordlund: We have created a workshop curriculum that teaches strategies for helping ourselves and others. We have recently focused on cognitive techniques--for instance, figuring out the root of problems and identifying emotions instead of leaning on the blanket term “stress.” I love when people e-mail me after workshops and excitedly describe how they applied what they learned to a dilemma or situation with a friend. Also, we aim to incorporate relevant wellness topics--issues such as drug and alcohol education, body image perceptions, and how to deal with unhealthy expectations--that we think could be a bigger part of the Chadwick learning experience.

Krauss: Another way that we aim to help our peers is to create an overall connected, supportive community. From a committee that runs monthly Middle School advisory groups, to a committee that helps teach ninth-grade life skills classes, to committees that organize the ninth-grade big brother/sister program and events such as movie nights, we work with classmates at various stages of their Chadwick experience. Although each committee is tailored to an individual group within our community, they are united in their mission to foster connections between students, and create a community in which all students feel they have access to wellness resources.

Lydia Krauss is a Chadwick senior, and Erin Nordlund is a faculty advisor for Peer Mentors.


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peer, chadwick, community, group, aim, create, skills, work, mentor, program, student, help, committee


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