SUGAR CITY, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - "Research shows that if a student has one trusted adult that they can talk to whether that's at the school or at home, their success rates of at any type of social activity is higher, and they feel better. And so we're trying to just be able to have more outlets for them," said head counselor at Sugar-Salem High School, Jocelyn Hobbs.
Going into her sixth year, the district has secured a grant that is part of the Idaho Lives Project. It's allows for funding of a peer-based program that addresses student's social-emotional and mental health needs called 'Sources of Strength', something hobbs says the students could really benefit from.
"It's a great area but we have a lot of kids at our school that struggle and because of the community, and the culture in our community people don't really talk about it. And so what I've noticed as a counselor here in the last five and a half years is that our kids have a lot of problems and they struggle with, a lot of things, and they keep it pretty hushed, and then it builds up inside of them," Hobbs said.
The grant gives the district funding for mental health campaigns and incentives for the students. It also allows each staff member in the district to be trained on mental health and helps them create peer-based support groups.
"The grant will help us teach kids the basic skills of relationships and basic skills of feeling maybe left out, where all of a sudden they can benefit from that. So if there comes a time where they're close to falling off the waterfall they already know how to be equipped to stop themselves, or to reach out to an adult or to reach out to a friend," Hobbs said.
Fourth-graders and up will benefit from the program that Hobbs says will shift the culture of the schools.
"It'll allow teachers to maybe shift their mentality in the classroom a little bit instead of maybe looking at behavioral as possibly punishment for behavioral, it'll say what's the need what's that child missing," Hobbs said.
The grant was awarded to 21 Idaho middle and high schools. They will receive $2,500 to implement the Sources of Strength program this upcoming school year.