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We recently had word from Miss Ratnayake of Birrong Girls High School in regards to one of her students wanting to get a letter to us.
It perfectly exemplifies the development and acquisition of critical protective factors and passing these on to her peers through her experience.
Coming Full Circle- A Peer Support Leaders’ Story
The moment that the excitable young Year 7’s entered the gates of Birrong Girls was an absolute starling moment for many of us, especially me; watching the nervous, primary school nutshells open into the ‘Bigger world’- allowed me to have a flashback to the moment I was new.
Peer Support intrigued me because of my leaders that left a mark on me when I was in Year 7. Being a Year 7 student, entering a different school and meeting new people is a daunting and fearful moment. Peer Support is a fundamental program that fights that for Year 7’s, allowing them to not only be taught by their classroom teachers but their peers. Peer Support provided knowledge, experience, social, emotional and practical help to Year 7 students at Birrong Girls High School.
Peer Support is a peer led, skills based learning program. It empowered young people like me to support others and contribute positively to society and my school. Most importantly, it provided me with an authentic leadership opportunity allowing me to provide students with a supportive learning environment in which they developed skills, understandings, attitudes and strategies to improve their mental, social and emotional well being. Not only did this fundamental program enhance my learning it also allowed me to develop key skills in resilience, assertiveness, problem solving and decision making.
When I was chosen as a Peer Support Leader I was enthralled by this opportunity as I knew it was one of the only times I would actually gain that experience of becoming a teacher to high school students. Whilst I was a mentor, not only did I get to meet numerous students from all walks of life, I was granted with the opportunity to remain friends and leaders of these students for the remainder of my high school years. Nothing brought me greater satisfaction than the time I resolved a bullying incident by two year 7 students.
Overall, my Peer support experience allowed me to develop lifelong skills, understandings, attitudes and strategies to make healthy life decisions.