Hope Squads bringing hope, saving lives


By Eddie Mowen Jr. - cmowen@aimmediamidwest.com



Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.


Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.


Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.


Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.


Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.


Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.


Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.


Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.


Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.


Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.


Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Giving the gift of hope is a year-round effort for dozens of area high school students. On Friday, Dec. 10, Hope Squad members from all five Preble County schools came together for a cross-county training session for the peer leaders whose missions are to save lives and bring hope to their fellow students.


Submitted

EATON — Giving the gift of hope is a year-round effort for dozens of area high school students.

On Friday, Dec. 10, Hope Squad members from all five Preble County schools came together for a cross-county training session for the peer leaders whose missions are to save lives and bring hope to their fellow students.

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues, according to advisor Michelle Gebhart of Gebhart Counseling Solutions. “They’re kind of the eyes and ears between the student and the adults in the schools — and outside of the schools — who can help. They’re kind of twofold. One goal is to try to be there, to reach out to students, to notice things. Students in their school building know who they are. So they know they’re safe peers that they can go to,” Gebhart said.

“The second part of what they do is just spread hope and positivity in the school,” Gebhart said. “Eaton’s Hope Squad will do once-a-month or once-every-other-month activities within the school. Just to sort of bring that positive feel in the school.”

Hope Squad members are nominated by their peers and not adult-chosen. “That’s kind of a great process. Because peers are already looking to these individuals as those that they feel safe talking to,” Gebhart added.

This was the first time all five Hope Squads had come together for a countywide training event since COVID-19 prevented them in 2020.

“We started the Hope Squads in Preble County in the 2019-2020 school year,” Gebhart said. “We started doing the cross-county trainings once a month and then COVID prevented that for the remainder of 2020. We weren’t able to bring them together last year. We didn’t bring them together beginning of this year because of that spike. So, this is our first one this year.”

The countywide Hope Squad event included fun team-building and networking activities, and then trainings which are part of eight the high school students must complete. “They’re trained in a certain curriculum,” Gebhart said. “We did some training phases today. We also did some team building and some networking just to allow the kids to get to know who the other Hope Squad members are, because they work with kids from different buildings.

“They’ll see, you know, things on social media from someone from a school that’s not in their district. Now they know who they can reach out to, to help the students in the other districts as well.”

“Students struggle a lot more in the spring, than they do holidays — adults struggle during the holidays,” Gebhart said. “Students struggle a lot more as spring is approaching. So, we really look at that. Our Hope Squads also are involved in educating their peers, as well as middle school students in their districts, on suicide. They’ll talk to them about depression — what it is, what the symptoms are, what the warning signs for suicide are — and how they can reach out and get help. They do a lot of education year-round with that as well.”

Approximately 95 students, freshmen to senior class, are members of Hope Squads across the five school districts in Preble County.

“The kids do an amazing job,” Gebhart said. “I can’t talk enough about what they do really. I mean, they have truly saved lives of some kids in our county.”

“I can count numerous instances where they have noticed things on social media, or they’ve heard kids talking about suicide. And they either have a conversation with the kid or they bring it to the advisors. They know they can reach us 24/7. I will get texts on the weekends. I’ll get texts throughout the summer. They’re paying attention and they’re getting the kids to the right place,” she added. “We’ve had a couple times we had to send out police because it was that imminent that a student was thinking about suicide and was pretty much ready to attempt, and because of intervention on our Hope Squad’s part, and them noticing, they have saved lives.”

According to Gebhart, Hope Squads were developed in Utah. “An individual who had lost — I think — a child to suicide, developed this idea,” she said. “They had seen in Utah that with the Hope Squads they had a lot less students attempting and completing suicide. I work with Grant Us Hope out of Cincinnati, and they have coordinated with Utah and brought Hope Squads to the greater Dayton-Cincinnati area. We have well over 100 Hope Squads in this area of the state.”

Grant Us Hope’s mission is to “transform the conversation on suicide prevention and bridge local service gaps through collaborative, evidence-based research, education and programs.” According to the organization’s website, Grant Us Hope “works to prevent suicide by educating, engaging and empowering young people to accelerate capacity around mental health and suicide prevention, ultimately changing the culture of schools.”

“We have been fortunate in Preble County to get to work with Grant Us Hope, which has helped get us under a grant that they have to reduce the cost of developing the Hope Squads and maintaining them, and purchasing the curriculum each year. Our local Mental Health & Recovery Board funds a good part of what the Hope Squad’s cost is and then the schools did kick in some funding this year to maintain the squads and be able to allow them to do what they do,” Gebhart said.

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/12/web1_hope1.jpgHope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues. Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/12/web1_hope2.jpgHope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues. Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/12/web1_hope3.jpgHope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues. Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/12/web1_hope4.jpgHope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues. Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/12/web1_hope5.jpgHope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues. Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/12/web1_hope6.jpgHope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues. Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/12/web1_hope7.jpgHope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues. Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/12/web1_hope8.jpgHope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues. Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/12/web1_hope9.jpgHope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues. Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/12/web1_hope10.jpgHope Squad is a peer-to-peer mentoring group to help students who are struggling with suicide, with emotional issues, or with mental health issues. Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

Giving the gift of hope is a year-round effort for dozens of area high school students. On Friday, Dec. 10, Hope Squad members from all five Preble County schools came together for a cross-county training session for the peer leaders whose missions are to save lives and bring hope to their fellow students.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2021/12/web1_hope11.jpgGiving the gift of hope is a year-round effort for dozens of area high school students. On Friday, Dec. 10, Hope Squad members from all five Preble County schools came together for a cross-county training session for the peer leaders whose missions are to save lives and bring hope to their fellow students. Submitted

By Eddie Mowen Jr.

cmowen@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.