A nationally-recognized educator in Canada, Kevin Harrison, dedicated his attention to figuring out what makes someone trustworthy to their peers.
While Principal at the Timberline High School in Timberline, Campbell River, Vancouver Island, BC, Kevin realized that the student peer counseling program had tremendous promise. But peer counselors selected by the guidance counselors or school administrators tended to look alike, act alike and have the same friends.
They were trusted by some students, mostly the ones who looked and acted like them and had the same friends. But the rest of the students, the Goths, geeks, jocks, poets, drama kids, band members, special needs students and others who didn’t precisely fit the “teachers’ pet” model couldn’t relate.
So, together with his team at the school, Kevin created a survey for the students designed to find students that other students trusted. The 85 students nominated were reviewed by the school administrators for the factors they felt were important to being an effective a peer counselor, and the 50+ students resulting were brought into the fold.
Pearcings and tattoos were as common as hockey jerseys in the group. They came in all colors, shapes and sizes. Their language, walk, talk and mannerisms were vastly different from each other. But they all had some things important in common. They were trusted, were trustworthy and they cared about making a difference.
Thanks to Kevin’s thinking outside of the box, everyone had someone to trust when things went wrong and they needed someone to talk with. They are called "student advocates." It’s a model we are using with StopCyberbullying.org’s programs as we go from school to school to teach cyberbullying prevention.
See it in action at the International Stop Cyberbullying Youth Summit November 9, 2013 in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Google, Microsoft and Facebook are joining us. So is Dave Finnegan from Build-A-Bear Workshop, and Kevin Harrison himself. And even more importantly, 750 students from 4th – 12th grade are joining us too, to help lead the discussions.
Alert: The @youthsummitpei is sold out (at 1000 participants). But you can watch the event for free live online at Stopcyberbullying.org.