Newfield students are a ‘Source of Strength’

Newfield students are a 'Source of Strength'


Newfield’s high school students are taking part in an organization called Sources of Strength. “We are a group of students and adults in the high school who come together to work on ways to spread our message of hope, health and strength to everyone,”  Ms. DeLorenzo, one of the adult advisors of SOS, said.  Sources of Strength is an organization that helps students through tough times and shows them that there are other options rather than suicide or even drugs and alcohol. The organization was originally founded by Mark LoMurray in North Dakota in the 1990’s. The program joined with Peter Wyman in Rochester, NY at the University of Rochester in 2007 to 2009 and has now spread to many states in the U.S.

The program depends on peer leaders, “the main source of identifying students who could benefit from help or support.” The idea behind having peer leaders is that it may be more difficult for students who are in need of help to talk to adults. The peer leaders make it easier for those students to open up and talk about the problems that they are facing. They are the ‘eyes and ears’ for Sources of Strength.

“Our group is made up of a diverse selection of students representing a cross-section of the high school population along with caring adult advisers,” DeLorenzo said. The students are advised by adults in the high school to help guide them in planning fundraisers and social events like the SOS Extravaganzas.  “They help spread the message through formal and informal direct interactions with their peers, posters and other messaging activities such as our extravaganzas.” The SOS Extravaganza was put together by the peer leaders who set up a night filled with fun and games, but also incorporated the SOS message. “We invited the entire school community to join us in a fun, relaxing evening at school,” said Ms. DeLorenzo.

The SOS Extravaganzas were set up to bring students together into an environment that will make them comfortable and show them that there are healthy, as well as fun ways, to help them through tough times. The peer leaders make it a free a event so that no one has to feel like they cannot attend. The only request is that each person who attends turns in two canned goods. This way the organization can help the students have a good time, but also help the community. The SOS Extravaganza has many different activities that the students can participate in. The gym is open for dodge ball and other games, a room is reserved for video games, the auditorium is set up to play a movie, and there is even a make- up and hair station. Drinks and snacks are generously donated by members of SOS. Both of our extravaganzas have had great turn outs.

Sources of Strength made an impact in the school. The groups of students are going to spread the program to the middle school students through presentations that they have put together. “I think that the school community, through our efforts, has been made more aware of the message that if you are struggling or suicidal there is help and support right here in school and that the more we connect and share all of our sources of strength with each other – the stronger and more resilient we all will become,” Peter Pfarrer, co-adviser for the program, said.

The Sources of Strength group meets every Thursday. At the meetings the peer leaders share anything that is on their mind or that is bothering them. The rest of the group helps give advice and empathy to the sharing member. They also plan events and share ideas on how to spread the SOS message as well as ways to help other students in need.