Sources of strength: New club focuses on the positive


Harper Hanson, Staff Writer

 As suicide rates rise, so does the need for suicide prevention. 

In the state of Colorado, suicide rates have increased by 34% since 1999 according to CNN Wire. Creek Administration chose to implement Sources of Strength after being awarded a grant from the District Wellness Office to provide students with resources to use during difficult times. 

“The atmosphere of this world has this negative undertone and now is a really good time to support one another rather than have this judgemental and competitive nature,” Activities Director Dr. Krista Keogh said.

Suicide prevention programs are often known for just presenting the signs of suicide. And some would even go as far to say that many programs often use scare tactics to prevent suicide. 

Sources of Strength was chosen for a different reason: it focuses on preventing suicide through empowering all humans with their strengths.

“Sources of Strength is not a last resort program. It actively teaches us coping skills and our strengths that will help us if we ever begin to feel suicidal,” Keogh said. “We liked how it focused on how to be healthy and not just for the students, but for the adults too.” 

After a year of waiting to be awarded the grant for Sources of Strength, Creek staff participated in a training that would help them understand how the program functions.

“The training was fun and engaging. I left feeling motivated to remind myself of my strengths on a daily basis,” Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Katie Sierega said. 

Including participation from the staff, Creek has joined together a group of about 100 students to participate in Sources of Strength and help in a “school-wide effort to bring the culture of Cherry Creek High School alive,” according to Keogh. 

After the student training, junior Sidney Whittney said, “The most memorable part for me was breaking into small groups and talking to only a few people about deeper things. It made me realize I’m not alone at Creek and there are teachers I could talk to about things.”

In order to bring this culture alive students will learn how to support one another in a series of campaigns the students of Sources of Strength are putting on. Administration hopes this in turn will change the culture of our school, by everyone actively providing one another with support. 

“Sources of Strength is an evidence-based program that has shown groups of peer leaders can shift school wide culture and norms in healthy directions,” Scott LoMurray, the Deputy Director of Sources of Strength, said via email. “Peer leaders can leverage their voice to be agents of change, to be the patient zero of an epidemic of health, a contagion of strength and hope throughout the community.”

Students across all social groups struggle. It is the goal of Sources of Strength to impact and help students in all corners of the school by making and intertwining social support and also having a safe teacher to go to. 

It is not uncommon to feel alone while going through tough times. It is the goal of Sources of Strength to show students and staff that they are not alone. 

“The program is focused on providing students and adults with tools that will help them cope with all the challenges life provides us, “ Princpal Ryan Silva said via email. 

“Ultimately our goal isn’t to just keep people alive but to help people live healthy and full lives,” LoMurray said. 

According to LoMurray, when someone looks at their strengths, these strengths can be undermined by negativity from others, and even themselves. It becomes hard to believe your worth, when you don’t know your strengths, and this is when Sources of Strength takes part. 

“We will support the Cherry Creek team as they work towards these goals,” LoMurray said, “but ultimately that culture change has to come from within. We can’t make it happen, our job is to provide a platform and a process that shines a light on your voice and empowers your students to leverage your voice and your power to make a positive impact on your world.”

The club meets once a month, during lunch periods, while the leaders meet several times per month.