Peer 2 Peer’s fall retreat UndeRstood the assignment

By Lauren Veitengruber and Maggie Dunn

As spikes of concern regarding mental health increased after the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, North has been prioritizing the mental health of students. The Peer 2 Peer club aims to make school a safe place. In the past, Peer 2 Peer has hosted a Wellness Fair, informational learning sessions, a suicide prevention walk and handed out mental health resource items for students at North. 

This year the club started with a retreat that was held for all members to jumpstart planning and campaign work for the year. The members learned how they can help their fellow students with mental health resources and support at their disposal.  The training also covered ways to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and signs of mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.  

While the student members of Peer 2 Peer are responsible for creating their yearly slogan and campaign.  The advisors of Peer 2 Peer help and support the student members along the way.  School social worker and Peer 2 Peer adviser Kelly Osborne assisted her fellow advisers, Lauren Klein and Christine Kuhl, in the planning of the retreat. Osborne believes the most important thing learned at Peer 2 Peer was how members can help other students.

 “We reviewed ways in which students can support their peers when they need help and the importance of if they see something or someone struggling, they need to say something and connect that person with a mental health support person in the building,” Osborne said. 

Junior Peer 2 Peer member Emily Giffer has been in the club since her freshman year. Giffer attended the retreat hoping to achieve the goal of producing a slogan for this year’s campaign. The slogan and planning for the campaign usually takes months to curate, however this year’s was accomplished after a couple hours of brainstorming.  New members engaged in the process of creating the slogan and campaign.  This year the group has decided  to use the campaign “UndeRstood” with emphasis on the “U” and “R” and plans to create posters and t-shirts to announce the slogan. 

“I felt like [the slogan planning] went really well,” Giffer said.  “Normally that takes us six weeks to finish. So it was really nice to get it done in one day.” 

At the retreat, members participated in multiple team bonding activities and were encouraged to interact with people they didn’t know as well through games, ice breakers, questionnaires and group work.  School psychologist Christine Kuhl believes the team bonding activities greatly improved relationships between the group.

“The students really got to know each other because they spent a full day together,” Kuhl said. 

According to the feedback given by the Peer members their experiences’ and thoughts were positive and they benefited from the day long training.

“Feedback that we received from students at our closing circle was that members left Sunday’s retreat feeling connected as a group,” Osborne said. “[They were] happy with our slogan, feeling educated about mental health, and excited and energized for their work with Peer 2 Peer this year.”