Following an unprecedented end to the past school year, ​Sources of Strength at Hopewell Valley Central High School (HVCHS) is rolling out the “What Helps Us” campaign, an extensive plan to spread their message throughout the school and broader community with the aim to encourage others to consider how they persist during difficult times.

Sources of Strength began at the start of the 2019-2020 academic year at Hopewell Valley Central High School ​as an initiative focused on the mental health and well-being of students and faculty. The overall goal of Sources is to prevent ​suicide, violence, bullying, and substance abuse through ​spreading messages of hope, help, and strength. This is facilitated through the Sources of Strength Wheel, which contains the categories of mental health, family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, generosity, spirituality, and medical access. Students are encouraged to recognize their strengths on the wheel, as well as identify the areas in which they need extra support.

The program is composed of both staff members and students, who were identified as leaders within the school community, and are committed to making a positive difference. Sources typically meets during the morning Recitation period once or twice every month.

“Sources of Strength meetings are designed to include one part fun, one part sharing, and one part planning,” said Dr. Christopher Velderman, the advisor of the program. “During a meeting, we will usually play a game, share about something related to the wheel or our own strengths, and then plan an upcoming campaign. We start off talking in a big group and brainstorming ideas based on goals of the campaign and then break up into groups to get into the nitty gritty of how different parts of the campaign will get done.”

Currently, the group is working on developing and recording a student run podcast, in addition to planning various school/community activities. Students have also created multiple murals and posters featuring the Sources Wheel that can be seen throughout the HVCHS hallways.

Although the pandemic has limited in-person events, the group has made use of social media to carry out their mission. Reminders to take a deep breath and practice gratitude fill the HV-Sources Instagram page, acting as a reminder of the strength within the school community regardless of the circumstances.To learn more about ​Sources of Strength,​ be sure to check out @hvsources on Instagram!

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