Hope Squad

New to the 2019-2020 academic year, the Elmira City School District is pleased to be the first New York State public school district to introduce Hope Squad, a Utah-based mental health awareness non-profit committed to positive school culture and suicide prevention by peers. Hope Squad

The Hope Squad is a new school-based peer support program that empowers selected students to take action to improve the school environment. Through a collective partnership between Abby’s Paws, Chemung County and the Elmira City School District, Hope Squads are being created across the District. The vision of Hope Squads is to change community perceptions of mental health by creating awareness about suicide and the tools available to prevent suicide.

At the primary levels (grades 4-6), elementary students will focus on self-esteem, positive self-image, coping strategies, and positive choices. 

At the secondary level (7-12), the Hope Squad will be a support team of partners with local mental health agencies. Peers will nominate and select students who are trustworthy and caring individuals to join the Hope Squad. Squad members will be trained to watch for at-risk students, provide friendship, identify suicide-warnings, and seek help from adults.

Hope Squad members are not taught to act as counselors, but rather, are educated on how to recognize signs of suicide contemplation, and how to properly and respectfully report this to an adult. Hope Squads are the eyes and ears of our schools. 

Further resources on mental health of Chemung County can be found by visiting Walk-a-Mile.net.  Hope Squad will culminate with a "Hope Week" scheduled in the spring during Mental Health Awareness Week. To download and print the Elmira City School District flyer on Hope Squads, please click here

What are the Goals and Objectives of Hope Squad?

Goal: Hope Squads seek to reduce self-destructive behavior and youth suicide by training, building, and creating change in schools and communities.

Objectives:

1. Train -- Hope Squads will train students and staff in schools to recognize suicide-warning signs and act upon those warnings to break the code of silence.
Hope Squads will train students and staff to identify adolescents with undetected, untreated, or emerging mental disorders.

2. Build -- Hope Squads will build positive relationships among peers and faculty in schools to facilitate acceptance for students seeking help.
Hope Squads will build strong relationships with local mental health agencies and communities while educating students, parents, and school staff about available community mental health resources.

3. Change -- Hope Squads will work to change the school culture regarding suicide by reducing stigmas about suicide and mental health.