Hope Squad: Student-to-Student
Suicide Prevention Program Is on the Grow
In 2018, Foxview Intermediate School in De Pere launched HOPE Squad, a student-to-student suicide prevention support team. Founded in Utah, and currently operating in more than 400 schools nationwide, the goal of Hope Squad is simple: to provide friendship, encouragement and support for peers who may be struggling.
Now Hope Squad is expanding—to additional De Pere schools and to other area schools. More than 60 staff members from De Pere, West De Pere, Ashwaubenon and Green Bay attended training conducted by Hope Squad founder Dr. Greg Hudnall last Friday at St. Norbert College.
The Hope Squad program is facilitated by trained staff, but students nominate their peers to serve. Last year, students at Foxview nominated 25 fellow students who they believed were kind-hearted, approachable and naturally good listeners as Hope Squad members.
According to Foxview Adviser Michelle DeLeeuw, students are not asked to act as counselors, but rather trained to look for warnings signs of struggles, be effective listeners and to understand the importance of referring their peers to trusted adults for help if needed. DeLeeuw and other advisers select lessons from the HOPE Squad Curriculum to train students with age appropriate content.
In De Pere, funds for the initial training and related expenses were paid in part through a state mental health grant, but the new training and curriculum to expand into more schools is continuing thanks to contributions and donations from the community. If you'd like to donate to the program, checks can be made payable to the Unified School District of De Pere, 1700 Chicago Street, De Pere, WI 54115. The Unified School District of De Pere is the fiscal agent for Hope Squad funds throughout the area.