Ozark City Schools are allowing peers to help peers

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 1:09 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Ozark City Schools has a mission to continue helping students beyond education. Including mental health, bullying, and other issues a student may face. A new program is now allowing those students to help each other.

“By that I don’t mean we are putting them in the situation of becoming the counselor but essentially putting them in the positions where we know they are going to hear it,” said Danika Ogunade – Peer Helper Program Supervisor.

Students will get to be a face in the hallways that creates a positive and encouraging environment for fellow students.

“some people can just be scared growing up facing trauma and be more comfortable to reach out to someone their age and going through the same thing as them,” said Julie Nguyen – Peer Helper Member.

Students must apply for the program and if selected. go through special training.

“Such as conversation starting empathy active listening and ethical reporting, they all have to sign a code of ethics that explains to them what their roll is and how important it is to be confidently when students share information with you and also the things that are mandatory that we report to our counselors or to an adult that need adult intervention,” said Juli Parrish – Student Intervention and Drop out Prevention Specialist for Ozark City Schools.

Karmelo Overton is a second year peer helper and says his role is a rewarding one.

“It felt good knowing that I could help somebody and make somebody else happy if they want to go to the school and tell them some good things about the school and then it felt good that he wanted to be an athlete so that’s like a really good bond right there for a friendship,” said Karmelo Overton – Peer Helper Member

There are hopes to get more students interested in becoming peer helpers and grow the program as whole. The peer helper program stretchers throughout all of Ozarks City Schools from first grade to high school seniors.

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