Welcoming Hope Squad to our School Safety Program

Lakota Welcomes Hope Squads to School Safety Program
Posted on 04/11/2018
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Hope Squad flyerLakota Local Schools, in partnership with Greater Cincinnati’s Grant Us Hope, is proud to bring Hope Squad to students at both Lakota East and Lakota West high schools. Preparation for full implementation in the 2018-19 school year is beginning now with student, staff and parent informational meetings.

Lakota is one of over 20 schools in the Greater Cincinnati region to pilot the national school-based peer-to-peer suicide prevention program in southwestern Ohio. Hope Squad members are students nominated by their peers who are then trained to identify at-risk students, provide friendship and seek help from an adult.

“Hope Squad’s mentality to put students at the center of the solution aligns perfectly with Lakota’s student-centered approach to everything we do,” said Lakota Superintendent Matthew Miller. “Oftentimes, students confide in one another more than the adult figures in their lives, which makes a program such as Hope Squad all the more effective. Every layer we can add to our safety and security plans is another layer of protection for our students.”

Every month, through the duration of the school year, Hope Squad provides program advisors with a detailed curriculum that guides education and training of their student representatives. The Utah-based program also builds in a data and evaluation plan that allows partner schools to monitor outcomes and adjust accordingly.

“Part of reducing the negative impact of mental health illnesses is improving mental health education and reducing the stigma associated with it,” said Lakota East Principal Suzanna Davis.

“Emotional distress is a normal part of being a teenager,” said Lakota West Principal Elgin Card. “Our goal is to make the process of seeking help normal, too - not to mention something they can access quickly and easily through the support of their peers.”

In schools where Hope Squads have been formed, recent data analysis show that over 25 percent of all referrals to counselors have been from Hope Squad members. Of those referrals, 14 percent have been hospitalized for treatment.

Students have already begun nominating their peers to make up their school’s Hope Squad. Dr. Greg Hudnall, a national champion for suicide prevention in schools and communities and Hope Squad founder, will facilitate the first staff and student meetings on April 16.

Another early step in forming a Hope Squad is to educate and engage parents in suicide prevention programming so that they, too, can support the culture being built at school. Lakota will host a parent informational meeting in partnership with Dr. Hudnall on April 16 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. in the auditorium at Lakota East High School.