Sources of Strength supports mental health

Sources of Strength supports mental health
Posted on 12/19/2022
Sources of strength training participants spelling HOPE for their communities

The Sources of Strength program is building roots across LKSD. 

An in-person peer leader training run by two national trainers from the Sources of Strength program took place in Bethel this week. The training introduced LKSD peer leaders to the eight strengths in order to grow and practice their own strengths and learn to share them with classmates through messages of hope, help and strength across their school communities. 

Earlier this school year, Advisory School Board members and school site administrators heard from four Sources of Strength peer leaders from Nightmute School. The story of how these students used their Strengths to benefit themselves and their community was so compelling that they were asked to give their presentation to other students and school district groups, as well as future associated projects planned for the district.

Sources of strength group and stickie wall

“The Sources of Strength model fits our LKSD communities so well because the program encourages the peer leaders to incorporate the Strengths from their culture and their communities into their positive messaging campaigns,” said Meghan Crow, LKSD Lead Social Worker.

In Nightmute, the Sources of Strength program started with two students: Corey and Colby George, said Jim Biela, another LKSD social worker. Biela has been assigned to Nightmute School for 17 years. 

Biela said the program has shown students how to take their mental health seriously, and encourage and support close relationships in their lives.

“Nightmute had a tragic event in 2021. With the pandemic, the village was not able to fully grieve as their tradition was limited,” Biela said.

“The Sources of Strength program with Corey and Colby gave them and the community a sense of [hope] and began the healing for themselves and community by finding their strength in family, friends and the generosity of others.”

Deborah McRae, site administrator at Nightmute School, said Sources of Strength has also hosted other schools and given presentations via Zoom. 

Peer leaders are currently working on a project that involves participation from community members. 

Sources of strength posterNew sources of strength within the community through intentional acts of kindness and generosity is the ultimate goal, in addition to acknowledging current acts of kindness.

“In Nightmute, we are very excited to have almost every secondary student participating,” said Spenser Nelson, a teacher at Nightmute School and advisor to the program. “Our first meeting had 90% of the high school, about 13 students, and 80% of the junior high attend, about 10.”

Nelson said peer leaders have created a set of positive actions to encourage students to do in class, and since numbers are so high, they have begun integrating lessons into classwork.

“The Sources of Strength program has felt [...] effective and customized for our community. I love how the students are reflecting on their own needs and are taking the ownership for helping others,” Nelson said.

The sites that attended this week’s training in Bethel included: Bethel High School, Gladys Jung Elementary, KLA- Kuskokwim Learning Academy, Nightmute, Chefornak, Kasigluk-Akula, Kongiganak, Kwethluk, Mertarvik and Quinhagak.

Sources of Strength circle

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