Sources of Strength
By Elean Gersack; images courtesy of DCSD
Sources of Strength is an internationally recognized youth suicide prevention program that has been implemented in many middle and high schools across the Douglas County School District (DCSD), including Rocky Heights Middle School and Rock Canyon High School.
According to Kimberly Moore, DCSD health, prevention and social emotional learning lead, the overarching goal of the program is to send the message to students that there is hope, help and strength during times of adversity; that there are people willing to help; and that each individual person has strength in their life.
The eight “slices” of the program’s strength wheel are family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, generosity, spirituality, physical health and mental health. “We all have strengths but don’t necessarily have them all at the same time,” shared Moore. Using the wheel as a guide, students can lean into other areas of strength when things are difficult in another.
Middle and high schools using this program have a core group of adult advisors and student peer leaders who are trained by Moore and her team. Peer leaders are nominated and represent all corners and cultures of the school community. The school-based team then focuses on connection through activities and messaging to reach the broader school base.
“We want students to be empowered and encouraged to speak up for themselves and for others to get the support needed at any time. The program speaks to normalizing stress and help-seeking in an effort to let students know that life can be tricky and challenging at times, and it is okay to ask for help,” said Moore.
When Moore started in this position six years ago, there were three participating schools; now there are 16. The goal is to continue to increase the number of schools and even spread the concept throughout the greater community. “It’s so easy to understand and apply to life,” said Moore.
A newer elementary school component uses social and emotional lesson-based curriculum which aligns with the language of the middle and high school program. It is being used in 10 elementary schools at present. Kindergarten through second grade curriculum is in development and should be available next school year.
Thanks to the generosity of several community supporters – United Healthcare, Centura Health, Philip S. Miller Grant Program, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and the Douglas County Community Foundation – the program can be implemented at newly participating schools and sustained at those already participating.
To learn more or to request assistance with starting a Sources of Strength program, contact Kimberly Moore at Kimberly.Moore@dcsdk12.org. To learn more about Sources of Strength, visit sourcesofstrength.org.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, Text “Help” to 741741, or visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.