Finding strength in each other

Finding+strength+in+each+other

CLAIRE WODACK

The Freedom Eagle Leadership Team, more commonly known as FELT, has a subcategory of student leaders who are a part of a nationally recognized suicide prevention program called Sources of Strength, or SOS. Since its start in North Dakota in 1998, SOS has spread across almost 20 states, including Virginia.

Led by adult advisors such as Mahvash Fatmi, Mark Murray, Monica Belton and Michael Anthony Kitchens, the SOS program started at FHS in November of 2017. Junior and senior students come together twice a month to come up with new ways to make connections to the FHS student body.

“Most suicide prevention programs are actually intervention,” said Monica Belton, FHS social worker. “I think Sources of Strength is the first program that I’ve worked with that’s true prevention, and I love how it empowers other peers and students here realize that they can impact other peoples lives.”

The SOS wheel is made up of eight parts, and each part represents a strength. These include spirituality, medical access, mental health, family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities and generosity.

Photo provided by sourcesofstrength.org

“Usually, when we talk about strength, we talk about physical strength, mental strength, but we don’t often talk about the [specific parts] of those strengths,” said Cristi Goldberg, FHS counselor.

Each month, the SOS program focuses on a different strength, the most recent one being generosity. One of the ideas was a hot cocoa station for students walking into school. This was wildly successful, as members of SOS passed out hundreds of cups of hot cocoa topped with marshmallows.

Members of SOS handing out hot cocoa to students walking into school. Photo provided by Monica Belton.

“The hot cocoa cart was a lot of fun and it was really good to give back to our school and show them what generosity looks like,” said junior Maddie Do, a Sources of Strength leader.

The next phase was generosity cards.

Generosity cards were given out at lunches, and members of SOS urged students to anonymously write to someone who has shown generosity. Whether it be to a teacher, friend, peer or classmate, hundreds of cards were written and dropped into a box for SOS leaders to deliver to the recipient.

“Generosity is one of those things that we take for granted in our lives,” Goldberg said. “I think generosity has you thinking outside of yourself and to give to someone else.”

Photo provided by Monica Belton.

For the month of February, the Sources of Strength program is focused on healthy activities. They are currently planning a healthy activities fair during lunch where students are encouraged to draw, play games and share their own healthy activities.

The main goal of this program is to highlight the many strengths that the FHS community has, and bring people together to create healthy bonds with those around them.