Getting Stronger

Sources of Strength building Hope, Stability

Hannah Harper, Editor-In-Chief

Sometimes, the stress of high school combined with jobs, sports, and family struggles get to be too stressful for teens to handle. In order to help show support for the population of Carroll who are feeling these pressures, Carroll High School’s students and teachers went through a leadership training called “Sources of Strength” on Friday, September 14th. Their mission is to “prevent suicide by increasing help seeking behaviors and promoting connections between peers and caring adults.”

Trainer Emores Petty said he got into this leadership and national training position when he was staying with a friend in Colorado, where he lives now, and connected him with a friend’s dad who founded Sources of Strength, who was actively looking for a national trainer for the program, so Emores took the job.

Petty has been working this job for a year and a half, and has no short term plan of leaving the job. Though an entrepreneur and skater, he explains that this “job” is less of a career, and more of a lifestyle.

“One of the cool things about Sources of Strength is it’s not like some job, this is life work,” said Petty. “You’re not checking in doing some mindless task, then checking out at the end of the day and getting a paycheck. This is life work. First and foremost, it’s learning this stuff, then realizing that is starts adapting into your life, it just clicks and makes sense as a wellness program.”

Petty travels around the country, training students to be “Peer Leaders spreading hope, help and strength”, as said by Sources of Strength.

The training took place all day, which was planned to be a full day of training turned into a 2-hour delay day of training, but was still packed with activities and group discussions about living healthy mental lives, and how students at Carroll can encourage their peers to do the same.

The training, a concept brought to Principal Brandon Bitting last February, was something that Mr. Bitting knew he wanted to implement at Carroll as soon as he left from observing a different school’s teacher training.

Some of the activities included games where students were forced to reach out of their comfort zone by standing in front of the group of about 80-90 students and teachers, along with going into small groups and talking more personally about their mental health, families, and positive people around them.

Sophomore Delaney Winters said that her favorite part was getting into small groups. “This allowed me to connect to people I didn’t even know by things they have went through and overcame.”

The large group of students and faculty went from strangers to openly discussing struggles in their personal lives with people they barely knew when the day started.

“I really loved how raw and open everyone was about their lives. It wasn’t stiff and awkward conversation that you might see in a typical classroom when asked about difficult topics,” said Senior Caitlin Miller. “People weren’t afraid to say to each other, Hey, I struggle with that too, or even to cry with each other.”

The eight basic “Sources of Strength” that were discussed in the training were Family Support, Positive Friends, Mentors, Healthy Activities, Generosity, Spirituality, Medical Access, and Mental Health. These things are constant places in most people’s lives that they can draw strength and encouragement from in their everyday lives.

These strengths were explored throughout the day, not only focusing on students’ individual strengths and sources of happiness, but focusing on spots where students could improve on their own mental health.

It was crazy to me how everybody seems to be struggling with something outside of school, and still manages to come to school and put up a front like everything is okay,” said Junior Sarah Hauser. “It made me more sympathetic and really made me want to help others by lending them some of my strength.”

Although only a small percentage of Carroll’s over 2,000 students, the program is meant to spread throughout the school and reach every corner of every group in the school.

We don’t want to to be exclusive to just that group,” said Bitting. “But we want to include the whole school.”

In order to help spread the message of hope and strength to every student at Carroll, the students who were part of the training will be meeting during some activity periods, planning out how they plan to spread a message of hope throughout the school.

Although the program is still extremely new to the students in the program, students hope that they can work together as a group to help spread love and support to their fellow classmates, teammates, and friends to help everyone find and hold onto something they love, and provide support even through tough times.

The program is meant to be a proactive solution to kids who are feeling lost or depressed, to help show them that even if they can’t see it, there is a range of students and teachers who care about them.

If you or a friend are having suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-8255. 

“If everybody could go through that training, more people would choose to give some of their strength to people who are struggling,” said Hauser.