Tampa, FL (Aug. 24, 2016) - Hillel Academy introduced Yad B’Yad (Hand in Hand), a structured, supervised program designed to bridge the gap for students who need help and may feel more comfortable turning to a peer. The program is expected to make a positive emotional and social impact on students. It will also support the school’s emphasis on teaching Jewish values of compassion, performing acts of loving kindness, friendship and loving your neighbor as yourself. Peer supporters will be available to Hillel Academy students from transitional kindergarten (TK) through eighth grade.
Research studies have shown the benefits of receiving mentoring and support from peers. Research has also shown that mentors benefit from an increased self-esteem and sense of responsibility. Advocates for Youth Research (Washington, D.C.) suggests that “students are more likely to hear and personalize messages, and thus to change their attitudes and behaviors, if they believe the messenger is similar to them and faces the same concerns and pressures.”
Many times students find their friends’ advice more helpful than their parents’ advice and often times a child feels good about his or herself when supporting another child who needs positive interaction with a peer. Some children are more likely to connect with and follow advice from someone they can relate to and who has gone through similar experiences. Mentors may even benefit from heeding their own advice.
Students in grades four through eight may apply to become Hillel Academy peer supporters. They will complete an application including their parents’ approval signature, solicit a reference from a teacher, demonstrate Jewish values and be free of any disciplinary action during the previous trimester.
All peer supporters will receive training and ongoing support by Hillel Academy’s school counselor. They will learn the importance of confidentiality and when the appropriate time to involve an adult is present. They will provide support, help with problem solving, conflict resolution, social concerns, welcoming new students and more. The school counselor will be informed of all students who have been assisted by a peer supporter and will follow up if necessary.
Students who would like help from a peer supporter may simply ask. Students can let their parent, teacher or school counselor know they would like to talk with a Yad B’Yad peer supporter. Peer supporters will be available during lunch, recess, between classes, during school after care and other free time.
Hillel Academy looks forward to Yad B’Yad becoming an important component within school’s existing support system.