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Vale Middle School program aims to reduce anxiety, build resilience among students

VALE – An innovative program in its second year at Vale Middle School aims to reduce suicide, substance abuse and bullying among students.

“Sources of Strength” puts the emphasis on combating issues such as suicide by equipping student peer leaders with training and guidance from parents, teachers and administrators.

The program is about prevention, said Jennifer Goldthorpe, middle school counselor.

“It takes students from across the student body who can be trained to be a connector to help. They are trained that if they see someone who needs help they can connect them to people who can help,” said Goldthorpe.

The student peer counselors are not trained therapists, said Goldthorpe. Instead they function as a kind of trip wire to signal officials of a student facing a challenge.

The program addresses a growing concern regarding mental health of middle school and high school students, said Goldthorpe.

“We are getting more requests . . .