CORA Services recently held its annual orientation for the Peer Helpers Counseling Program. On Wednesday, October 19, 2016 a group of 80 eighth graders, from six local elementary schools, gathered in CORA’s conference room for a program called “Together We Can Make a Difference.” Jack Chambers, of Creative Educational Concepts, led the students through a series of games and activities designed to stimulate conversation, build relationships and welcome the students to CORA’s Peer Helpers Program.
During one of the “Jack-tivities”, students were given the task of physically supporting each other while having only half of their total number of feet on the floor. Chambers explained that this exercise was more than just a physical challenge, it was a symbolic activity as well, designed to exhibit the idea that the classmates around them would become their support system and that they, themselves would serve as essential supports to other students. The activities provided a safe environment for interaction and idea sharing.
“CORA continues to provide unique opportunities to middle schoolers to reinforce the valuable lessons taught in classroom,” commented Jack. “When they enter the room, they are timid and quiet. By the end of the day, they warm up and become chatty and friendly.”
An eighth grader, from St. Matthew’s School, commented on his experience at the conference, “I like how Jack used humor to teach us about dealing with conflict and showed us ways to listen better to others.” Kate, one of CORA’s newest counselors, said “I really enjoyed the peer helper conference as did the peer helpers from St. Anselm! I think it was a great interactive way for students to meet their peers from other schools and learn about different ways to help their school and community.”
Selected as leaders in their respective schools, the Peer Helpers offer services such as tutoring, classroom guidance and hosting welcome activities for new students. The goal of the conference is to teach these student leaders skills they can apply throughout the year and prepare them to better help and lead their classmates. In the spring, the Peer Helpers from different schools will reunite and utilize the skills they’ve learned to help out with CORA’s Family Festival. Check out more photos on Facebook.