Counseling can be ‘peer’ly inspirational

Connections program on campus provides support for all students

Peer2Peer+is+an+on+campus+program+that+helps+students+emotional+and+mental+health. illustration/ DYLAN ROWE

Peer2Peer is an on campus program that helps students’ emotional and mental health.

Being a high school student can lead to many challenges, and for many students, hardships and difficulties come with everyday life.

On the Granite Bay High School campus, there are many services and resources available to students who are struggling with anything.

One of these services is the Peer Connections program, also known as ‘Peer2Peer’.

“‘Peer2Peer’ is a program run by students for students and is designed to provide emotional and psychological support to the student body,” said Natalie Elkin, the program advisor.

Five years ago, this enriching resource was brought to GBHS by Elkin.

Originally a GBHS English teacher for seven years before, Elkin went back to school to obtain a psychology degree to further her career.

Soon after, Peer Connections was born.

“I wanted my therapy skills to benefit the students at GB in some way,” Elkin said. “ I decided the best way to do that was to start a peer counseling program.”

Students involved have felt that Elkin has done a fabulous job in running the supportive service.

I wanted my therapy skills to benefit the students at GB in some way.

— Natalie Elkin

The two goals of the program are to equip students in the class with valuable life and communication skills and offer a supportive service for other students on campus.

Despite the great intent of Peer2Peer, not many students seem to know too much regarding the service.

“I haven’t really heard that much about it,” said freshman Alyssa Savig.

Savig suggests that the program should be more inviting so that students like her know about the program.

“I think it is pretty well known, but I have never been (to any programs) so I can’t really say,” freshman Audrey Atkin said.

Even if the name ‘Peer Connections’ may not sound familiar to some, students have most likely seen some of the productions that they have put on.

Peer Connections has been inspiring and helping students out since the first day of school.

New to the Peer Connections program to help students in need is a collaboration with the Wellness Center.

For students who are not yet involved in Peer Connections, Elkin recommends attending Wednesday Wellness Workshops and joining the Peer Perspectives club.

“I’m sure it is beneficial for those who have gone, I just never have,” Savig said.

Becoming a peer counselor may also be of interest to some students.

To apply, students need to complete an application and attend an interview with Elkin and the program directors.

The Peer Connections program may be unheard of by some, but the easily accessible resource is leaving a lasting impact on the GBHS campus for all to see.

Both students who are peer counselors and students who seek counseling are affected in positive ways by the feeling of belonging and connection that the program brings.

“My favorite part of the program is working with the peer counselors,” Elkin said. “Getting to know them … , watching them grow … , and experiencing the sense of family that develops through bonding, team building, and trust-building activities.”