When a student in the Broward County School District needs to talk to a Trusted Adult, all they have to do is find a green circle with a hand and a heart on an educator’s door.
The initiative was introduced by students in more than 100 SAVE Promise Clubs in the district, the sixth-largest in the nation. The Clubs have been so successful the district will begin implementing them in its 144 elementary schools starting this fall. Fittingly, the training is set to begin near National SAVE Day on October 20 during Safe Schools Week, October 17-23.
“It’s definitely had an impact,” said Kim Young, the peer counseling and character education coordinator for the district. “The schools that implemented the Clubs prior to the pandemic were definitely seeing a decrease in acts of personal violence. It’s not just about the activities. It’s that the kids in these Clubs really believe in the messaging. That’s why we’re planning to continue building on the program.”
The Peer-To-Peer Model
Another reason why Young believes the program has been so successful is that it empowers students to take action. The district already had a number of “social norm” clubs, she said. But it was the SAVE Promise Clubs that provided youth empowerment and tied it all together.
The Know the Signs programs are taught to their classmates by students in the district’s peer counseling classes. The plan is to have students from the secondary school level teach the programs to elementary school students.
“Students pay more attention if the message is coming from one of their peers,” said Shawna Meyer, a peer counseling educator with the district. “Next week they’ll be going to all the science classes for a presentation on social media awareness and cyberbullying.”
Expanding The Program
Young said they first began bringing the SAVE Promise Clubs and “Know the Signs” programs into the schools through a federal STOP School Violence Act grant. Since then, they’ve secured another grant to expand the program.
“It was actually the Department of Justice that suggested we expand into the elementary schools because of the success we’d seen on the secondary level,” Young said.
The school district plans to bring at least 75 elementary schools online during the next year and complete the project within the three-year timeframe for the grant.
Learn more about how you can organize a SAVE Promise Club at your school today!