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Traverse City Central High School
Rick Vandermolen, Principal

1150 Milliken Drive
Traverse City, Michigan 49686
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School Hours:
8:05 AM - 3:02 PM
Half Day Dismissal: 11:26 AM


Phone: 231-933-3500

School Code: 233-585

 


Natural Helpers

Natural Helpers is a peer-helping program used across the United States and in several other countries. It primarily serves middle school/junior high school and high school students who want to strengthen their communication and helping skills and to provide support to others and service to their schools and communities.
 
The Natural Helpers program is based on a simple premise: Within every school, an informal "helping network" exists. Students with problems naturally seek out other students—and occasionally teachers or other school staff—whom they trust. They seek them out for advice, for assistance, or just for a sympathetic ear. The Natural Helpers program uses this existing helping network; it provides training to students and adults who are already perceived as "natural helpers". It gives them the skills they need to provide help more effectively to young people who seek them out.
 
Natural Helpers are a cross-section of students and school adults identified through an anonymous school-wide survey. After representatives of all the subgroups in the school community are selected, they are invited to participate in the Natural Helpers program. They take part in a Retreat Training in a camp-like setting; there they learn how to improve their helping skills, how to contact professional helping resources when problems exceed their limits, and how to take better care of themselves. It is constantly emphasized at the training that Natural Helpers are not professionally trained therapists or counselors.
 
After this Retreat Training, Natural Helpers attend Ongoing Training—either in a semester class or in a less structured format—which enhances basic skills and information covered in the Retreat Training, and which explores topics of concern to students, like stress, suicide, eating disorders, and relationships with friends and with family.
 
Natural Helpers report significant benefits from being involved in the program, whether their involvement is helping one to one, assisting with program coordination, volunteering for community projects, or fulfilling some other role. Natural Helpers find that the skills they learn and practice in working with others are beneficial with friends, teachers, family, and co-workers. They make new friends in the program and break down some of the barriers that exist in any community. Natural Helpers also experience the special feeling that comes from helping someone else and knowing that they have made a difference.
 
 
Goals of the Natural Helpers Program
 
The Natural Helpers program is designed to meet three basic goals:
 
  • To teach Natural Helpers effective ways to help their friends
  • To teach Natural Helpers positive ways of taking good care of themselves
  • To teach Natural Helpers ways to contribute to a safe and supportive school environment
 
Roles of Natural Helpers
 
Students play a variety of roles as Natural Helpers. Among them:
  • Continuing to help their friends with their concerns 

  • Recognizing when people have serious problems—like depression, chemical dependency, and abuse—and referring them to trained helping resources 

  • Working with members of their helping team to discuss issues and specific problems 

  • Providing accurate information 

  • Becoming more involved with their school and community
What Distinguishes Natural Helpers from other Peer-Helping Programs?
 
The Natural Helpers program can be tailored to meet the needs and budget of each school, as well as the strengths and interests of its Natural Helpers. Regardless of the individual character of the program, however, it maintains some characteristics that distinguish it from many other peer-helping programs:
  • The survey used to identify the Natural Helpers—students and adults—assures that those who are selected are already seen by their peers as trustworthy and helpful people. 

  • The selection process increases the likelihood that all subgroups in the school will be represented by a Natural Helper. 

  • The Natural Helpers, those people most often used as sources for help, build upon their current abilities and increase their knowledge and skills. 

  • The Natural Helpers program addresses the areas of concern most often identified by the student population. 

  • Bringing together representatives from different subgroups in the school and helping them see their similarities contributes to a more positive school climate.
 
For more information about Natural Helpers please call or email Mrs. Burden at 933-3523.
 
 

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