For seven years Orange Walk Technical High School has been carrying out what is called peer counseling training. The training is geared at enabling students from the school to be student counselor helpers.

The training will equip them with communication skills, intrapersonal skills and interpersonal skills to be able to serve as role models in the school. Licia Castillo is the school councilor carrying out the training.

teacherLicia Castillo- OWTHS Councilor

“This is about the 7th year that we are doing training with our peer. They are peer helpers and they are trained in different aspects on how to help their peers right now they are in the process of doing peer counselling learning about techniques in which they can assist their peers and we will go to peer education and peer mediation. The idea of the whole things is that you take kids who are more high functioning and you give them the skills cause these are the kids that already have that desire to help others and you equip them with the skills to be able to help others students, who are their own age. Is a whole process that we go through. First I go to all the classes and I give them criteria what type of students we are looking for and then the students among themselves nominate the kid and if they are interested they come to me and they get an application form. In that application form there are four recommendation forms from their teacher, if they complete the process by a certain time they bring it to me and I take all of that and I sit with some of the teachers, I sit with the vice-principal and we look at their academic record, we look at their behavioural record all of those things and base on that then we pick the kid that we think that would be the most helpful to the rest of the student body.”

Before these students can become a part of the team in training they go through a selection process. Their own peers have to select them and the teachers have to recommend them. In addition the students must be performing well academically.

Licia Castillo- OWTHS Councilor

They’re a lot of things that they do, besides helping the kids in their class, because we realize that am, they are in the first line of defence, realize that students talk to one another first before they talk to adults, so before we learn anything if there is a problem with them, so they are the first line of defence, but not just that they are trained in communication skills, in how to present themselves, to vocalize what they think and how they feel and so they also those students that represent us outside at any forum or any workshop or of those things they are the ones who are picked form that school to represent that school.”

Over the seven years that the school has been undertaking the program observations have shown that they have become more assertive, vocal and outgoing with the skills they learn.

Licia Castillo- OWTHS Councilor

“It’s a great way for students to start built up their self-esteem, their self confidence and I have seen students who are really shy, because even they might help others and like that they might still be shy and we know a lot of times that shyness is loose of confidence and by the end of one or maybe two years they are different people, they are more assertive, they play a lot in a bigger role and what I have seen many of the students who are the ones that did well in school or the ones who have represented school and like that are the students that have gone through the training and even the ones that have left and gone abroad they tell me that what they do really helps them.”

schoolOn Monday the students will be finishing up the program and will become certified as peer counseling helpers.

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