Buddy system implemented at West Grand High School

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By Teresa Cantwell
Grand Futures
Prevention Coalition

The leadership team of West Grand High School, in partnership with their student leadership team, have implemented a school-wide buddy system in response to its mid-November move to full remote learning for the entire high school due to the COVID-19 quarantine requirements.

Buddy teams are comprised of four members, one from each grade level. Student leaders, Iliana Castillo, Allison Daly, Emma Daly, Jesus Dominguez, Cora Farley, and Charlie Multerer presented the new program to their schoolmates on November 12 via the school’s Google online meeting platform.

Mind Springs Health and Middle Park Health staff suggested this idea from their experience with a related system employed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: “The buddy system is an effective method to provide support, monitor stress, and reinforce safety procedures [during deployment].”

If we exchange the words, “during quarantine” for “during deployment”, the same benefits can apply. Makena Line, Program Director with Mind Springs Health believes that, “Taking care of our mental health doesn’t have to look like just what we think of traditionally, and so we wanted to encourage an approach where the youth could take leadership and ownership over helping one another during a difficult time. Helping others promotes our own happiness and resiliency and encourages youth to connect with other students they might not have typically. I’m very excited to see how they have created a buddy system that works for them and promotes their well-being at the same time.” The students were provided with the 5 “Be There Golden Rules” for directions on how to be an effective buddy: Say what you see, Show you care, Hear them out, Know your role, Connect to help.

To boost the interactions of the buddy groups during the holiday break, the student leaders involved with the UpRISE extracurricular club, sponsored by our local Communities That Care effort, decided to help promote the buddy system by hosting an online gaming tournament. Much like the NCAA basketball tournament, 30 buddy teams will compete with each other for the championship title in the online, free game called Codenames. Principal Bauer kicked off the tournament announcement by distributing free pizza lunch deals at Kum & Go on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Seniors are asked to coordinate with their buddy teams to schedule a time to play off against their assigned bracket competitor, however, anyone in the group can step up to contact the other team. Games can start as early as December 15 and run until January 16. The championship results will be announced on January 18, which is the first day of the school’s 2nd semester. Champion teammates will each receive a $25 gift certificate, compliments of the UpRISE program. Runner-up teammates will each receive $15. But the greatest gift is possibly the enjoyment of spending quality time with school mates playing a fun, free online game with each other during this time of social distancing. According to WGHS’s Senior Class President, Iliana Castillo, “I think this tournament is important because it shows how much we care for the students’ health. Everyone on this team wants every student to feel involved in something, especially during these hard times. It’s also a way to learn and grow. None of us have experienced anything like we have this past year, but all we can do is learn and grow from everything. By having this tournament, we will show our support in a fun way for all the students at West Grand.”

Want to learn more about supporting youth mental health? Mind Springs Health and Grand Futures are offering free Youth Mental Health First Aid classes online, compliments of a generous grant from the Grand Foundation. Contact [email protected] to reserve a virtual seat for the January 8, 11-4 pm class.

For the Colorado Crisis Services line for support and counseling for yourself or a loved one, call 844.493.8255 or text TALK to 38255.