Explore our frequently asked questions around program details, training and sustainability.
Elementary Curriculum And Lesson Details
How many lessons are there in each unit? Time needed for each lesson?
The curriculum is comprised of 12 units containing several lessons that build upon the unit topic. Lessons are designed to be approximately 30 minutes in length and typically facilitated one to two times per week.
Can this curriculum only be taught in a classroom setting with a full class?
The curriculum is designed to be universally taught to the entire class. With that said, the content is applicable and usable with a small counseling group, a small group of interested students, or in a before- or after- school setting. Ideally, this curriculum would be taught at all applicable grade levels and would contribute positively to the overall school culture and climate.
Elementary Coaches Training
Can I apply for the curriculum without attending a coaches training?
No, in order to implement the curriculum to fidelity, we require all coaches to attend a coaches training.
Who can be trained as a coach?
Coaches can be from a variety of positions such as classroom teachers, instructional coaches, mental health professionals, and school administration. Elementary Coaches will be training and supporting the Classroom Instructors.
Once a coach is trained, who do they train and support?
Coaches can train other instructors in their school and district in the implementation and instruction of the Sources of Strength Elementary Curriculum. Coaches can provide professional development training, ongoing support, coaching, observations, and learning opportunities.
Are coaches required to be trained yearly?
No. Coaches will be trained once at a two-day coaches training. There will be additional training opportunities and materials available to coaches in the future.
Elementary Program Outcomes and Fidelity
How does the curriculum differ from other evidence-based programs?
This curriculum is designed from a comprehensive, strength-based model that focuses on the development of protective factors, as opposed to the more common deficit-based models of prevention. The design is centered on empowering young people to identify and integrate healthy living strategies that allow students to live flourishing lives. At its core, Sources of Strength is a wellness model, integrating upstream prevention strategies to increase healthy coping, resilience, connection, and belonging. The Elementary Curriculum incorporates much-needed mental health and prevention language in a developmentally appropriate and accessible way. Sources of Strength Elementary utilizes active learning to empower student voice and a growth mindset and to facilitate meaningful youth-adult connections.
Has the elementary curriculum been evaluated for effective outcomes?
The curriculum has been piloted across two states in 3rd-6th grade classrooms, and initial instructor feedback has shown results of increased coping strategies and connection. Sources of Strength has adapted its evidence-based high school model to meet the developmental needs of 3rd-5th graders. The Elementary Curriculum is evidence-informed by our evidence as well as research in Social Emotional Learning, Trauma Informed Practices, Growth Mindset, Public Health, Prevention, and Mental Health Practices. Sources of Strength has a fundamental commitment to evidence-based practice and we are working to conduct a Randomized Control Trial to establish this evidence-base with the elementary program outcomes.
Is the intended outcome of this program suicide prevention, SEL, or both?
Both. The primary outcomes of Sources of Strength are increasing wellness through strengthening protective factors that reduce risk of downstream negative outcomes. Practically this looks like building health and wellness by developing resilience, strengths, healthy coping, help seeking, trusted adult connection, and belonging. This then translates into reductions in outcomes like suicide, substance abuse, violence, bullying etc. It is the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats, if we can effectively move upstream by creating individual and community wellness, we can prevent detrimental downstream outcomes as well.
Elementary Curriculum and Training Costs
Are both the Elementary Coaches Training and the Curriculum covered by the CARES Funding?
Yes, currently both the OH specific Elementary Coaches Trainings and the curriculum are covered by the CARES Act funding.
Are there recurring or annual costs associated with the curriculum?
No, the curriculum is available to an elementary school building or community group once they have submitted a letter of commitment. There are no required additional costs.
Can the curriculum be used for the entire school district?
No, the curriculum must be requested for each elementary building interested. Currently, we are limiting covered curriculum costs to two elementary buildings per district.
Secondary Implementation Overview
What are the steps to get started?
Awareness and Buy-In – This often includes training of a community/coalition on Sources of Strength, obtaining key administrative support and conducting a brief protocol review of handling distressed/suicidal students.
Identify and train Adult Advisors – Identify 2-5 adult advisors that will mentor a peer leader team. Train adult advisors in the Sources of Strength process in peer leader recruitment and their role in meeting and guiding peer teams during the action step phase. Adult Advisorsare a mix of school staff and community adults – school counselors, teachers, youth workers, spiritual leaders, friendly aunties – that have high relational connectivity with students
Recruit and Train Peer Leaders – Peer Leader teams are often between 10-50 students in size. The initial peer leader training is provided by a certified Sources of Strength trainer in a highly interactive, 3-4 hour training. It is mandatory that the local Adult Advisors participate in the peer leader training.
Peer to Peer Contacts and Messaging – After the initial training, the Peer Leaders and Adult Advisors begin conversations with other Trusted Adults and their 5-10 closest friends as well as create a wide range of Hope, Help, Strength messaging activities targeting a wider and diverse peer group. Sources of Strength provides a recommended step-by-step guide of peer leader activities but teams are able to adjust based on their readiness level and perception of what will work best in their setting.
A pattern of meeting together, planning, problem solving, and then going out and activating a variety of strategies is used in all settings. Some teams meet as often as once a week, others less frequently, but all peer teams are encouraged to complete several of the recommended strategies and use Hope, Help, Strength messaging rather than shock, trauma, or sad messaging. Sources of Strength and resources assist with peers connecting with adults and their friendship groups. Peer teams are encouraged and expected to share their creative efforts with other teams across the country via the Sources of Strength website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Every group is required to provide honoring and recognition events for the Peer Leader team.
Ongoing Support and Technical Assistance – Sources of Strength staff are always available to help with troubleshooting.
How does Sources of Strength work in collaboration with other programs?
So much of Sources of Strength’s work is centered around collaboration with other programs and recognizing that we work better together! Our program is designed to be customized, so schools may add it into other prevention, leadership, diversity, academic, spirituality, and community programs, and more.
How will you engage students in suicide prevention activities?
Sources of Strength is one of the national leaders in recruiting, engaging, retaining, and successfully using Peer Leaders to engage other students. An essential element of the program is the effective recruitment and training of Adult Advisors who display connectivity, care, and positivity with the students. The program provides not only the initial training, but also ongoing consultation designed to support Peer Leaders and Adult Advisors. Recruiting and supporting the right Adult Advisors is critical for engaging students.
Recruiting diverse Peer Leaders from a wide variety of social cliques and groups is an essential element in achieving the widespread social network impact that is core to the Sources of Strength model. The program is grounded in an interactive learning model, in which a “fun factor” plays an essential part of student engagement. Sources of Strength demonstrates a wide range of games that can be incorporated into presentations and messaging campaigns. Making use of students’ music, art, interests, drama, social media, etc., adds to the engagement of other students. Peer input and ownership is also essential; while formatted campaigns are available, they are often adapted to fit the culture, tone, style, and opportunities available in the individual schools.
Secondary Training the Trainers (T4T) Training
What type of training is required to implement the secondary program?
A trainer is required to implement the secondary program. The Secondary Training the Trainers (T4T) is a four day interactive training intended to be a step-by-step process, graduating participants as provisional trainers. Provisional trainers will be able to train adult advisors and peer leaders with the assistance of a certified trainer. Provisional trainers have access to certified trainers and expenses for the certified trainers are covered under the current funding.
Once trained as a provisional trainer, will I get assistance with program implementation?
Yes, if a school commits to implementing Sources of Strength, a certified trainer will assist the provisional trainer with the Adult Advisor and Peer Leader trainings as well as be a continued resource for Sources of Strength.
What is the difference between a provisional trainer and a certified trainer?
A provisional trainer is a graduate of the T4T training and is focused on implementing the Sources of Strength Secondary program. The provisional trainer must receive assistance from a certified trainer to hold the Adult Advisor and Peer Leader trainings. Provisional trainers are required to complete 4 mini education sessions about Sources of Strength and co-train two Adult Advisor trainings and two Peer Leader trainings within 24 months before becoming fully certified.
How often does a trainer need to recertify?
Sources of Strength recertification training is required every 36 months from your last attendance at a Train the Trainer Training.
Secondary Program Outcomes
Is Sources of Strength evidenced based?
Sources of Strength is a radically strength-based, upstream suicide prevention program with shown effectiveness in both preventative upstream and intervention outcomes. Sources of Strength has been involved in several large randomized control trials and is one of the most rigorously evaluated and broadly disseminated prevention programs in the country. Sources of Strength is considered the first suicide prevention program to demonstrate effectiveness in using peer leaders to enhance protective factors associated with reducing suicide across a school population. Sources of Strength teams are active across the United States, Canada, Australia, and many American Indian/Alaska Native and First Nations communities.
Sources of Strength has been listed on the National Best Practices Registry (BPR) by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) since 2009. Sources of Strength has also been listed on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices(NREPP) since 2011. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s(CDC) 2017 Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices, featured Sources of Strength as an evidence-based Peer Norm Program stating:
“Evaluations show that programs such as Sources of Strength can improve school norms and beliefs about suicide that are created and disseminated by student peers. In a randomized controlled trial of Sources of Strength conducted with 18 high schools (6 metropolitan, 12 rural), researchers found that the program improved adaptive norms regarding suicide, connectedness to adults, and school engagement. Peer leaders were also more likely than controls to refer a suicidal friend to an adult (emphasis added). For students, the program resulted in increased perceptions of adult support for suicidal youths, particularly among those with a history of suicidal ideation, and the acceptability of help-seeking behaviors. Finally, trained peer leaders also reported a greater decrease in maladaptive coping attitudes compared with untrained leaders.”
The conclusion and designation of Sources of Strength as an Evidence-Based strategy has been promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, and the National Institute for Mental Health.
Secondary Implementation and Training Costs
Are both the Secondary Training and the Implementation costs covered by the CARES Funding?
Yes, currently both the OH specific Secondary T4T Trainings and the costs to implement the program are covered by the CARES Act funding.
Are there recurring or annual costs associated with the secondary program?
Yes, starting year 2 of implementation, there is a $500 annual licensing fee per school building.