Students who received these words of encouragement and positive support were heard saying things like:
"This made my day!"
"I'm leaving mine up as long as possible!"
"Now we know a little bit about what the Natural Helpers do!"
Who are these Natural Helpers? Natural Helpers is an evidence-based program that utilizes the relationships between students and their peers to provide support for problems facing our youth today. In most school environments, there exists an informal network of help - students seeking out trusted peers for advice, assistance, or simply a listening ear. Using this existing informal helping network, the Natural Helpers program provides training to those students identified by their peers as someone they trust. This training boosts skills they need to provide more effective support to the peers who seek them out. Skills such as listening, problem solving, peer mediation, and self-care are at the core of this program. Students also learn referral skills for use when a problem exceeds their helping abilities. Natural Helpers are not "counselors", they are trained to provide support to students, be empathetic listeners, and peer mentors.
This program has been implemented in multiple schools in Harrison County and the feedback from the student helpers is overwhelmingly positive. Students feel pride in their ability to help their fellow peers and are motivated to learn more about how they can help those in their school with problems such as depression, bullying, stress, and relationship concerns. Small acts of kindness like the actions of these Natural Helpers during Random Acts of Kindness Month are but a small example of how peer support can change even one student's day for the better!