News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sources of Strength school program takes action

Earlier this year, the Sisters School District implemented a program called Sources of Strength (SOS) to form a foundation for interconnectedness and well-being for students, staff, and community.

In light of the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SOS team at Sisters High School (SHS) has jumped into action, offering a variety of resources and activities designed to help people cope with these challenging circumstances.

In the fall, 60 high school students and some staff were trained in the program as mentors, which high school teacher Matt Bradley oversees with the help of counselor Lindy Weddel and other high school staff. Though the program is relatively new, it is already having an impact, according to Bradley.

Bradley said, “Sources of Strength is a proactive positive culture program that spreads messages of hope, help, and strength across existing social networks. Although Sources of Strength has been around for decades, the program is just getting started at SHS. As a result, our Sources of Strength team is putting on a series of events in order to promote the program and support our community during this difficult time.”

Bradley and a dozen SOS student mentors have put together a Sources of Strength care package that is being sent out to all high school students and their families via regular mail as well as through email this week. A link to the entire package can be found at the end of this article as well as through a QR code (see graphic) that allows for the download of all the materials through a smartphone.

Sources of Strength, which is an international organization, uses a colorful wheel graphic to illustrate the eight components that the program emphasizes related to where human beings find their sources of strength. These eight components include family support, positive friends, mentors, positive activities, generosity, spirituality, physical health, and mental health.

Bradley and his students designed the care package to promote actions related to these concepts including a “Weekly Workout,” a personal bingo-like game dubbed “Outlaws Quingo” and a “Scavenger Hunt.”

The Weekly Workout includes suggestions for things to do each day associated with each of the eight wheel components. For example, under Generosity a person might check in on their neighbor, thank an essential worker, or donate to a charity. Under Mentor a person could contact someone who has supported them and ask for a book, film or music recommendation.

Outlaw Quingo is similar in that the quingo card includes 25 boxes with suggested activities to do, so participants can read through the quingo card and decide which direction to take for that day. Suggestions include things like enjoy the outdoors, sing or dance, read a book for pleasure, or make plans with a friend for after the quarantine.

Samantha Ryan helped modify the game to fit the Outlaws and said, “Everyone loves bingo and you can have a little fun during this time and stay connected and pull from your sources of strength. We are hoping that people from beyond the school community will take part.”

Quingo players are encouraged to add their participation to their Instagram story and tag the Sisters SOS account to become eligible for some raffle prizes in the form of gift cards to local businesses that have been provided by a variety of anonymous donors.

The Scavenger Hunt includes using the provided Sisters Strong poster and adding a message to it that exemplifies something that makes us stronger. People are asked to hang a completed poster where it would be visible from the street. Senior Maddison Anderson explained, “This is just one more way to spread that positivity and hope that Sources of Strength is all about. As people are out on a walk and see the posters it may cause them to have a conversation about it.”

The group is also planning a campaign to send notes to Sisters High School students through “snail mail,” according to students Anna Mensing and Rachel Dale. Members of the SOS team hope to send notes of hope to all students and in turn encourage them to do the same for other people in their lives.

Sydney Wilkins said, “I think there is a lot of possibility for a really strong impact for SOS as a positive culture program, including how we can recover from bad things that have happened and by focusing on good things and things that make us better and stronger.”

Skylar Wilkins added, “We are trying to reach people now who are not in school and who may be feeling disconnected because that connectedness is the one thing that really helps, especially in times like this.”

She also wanted to express her sincere gratitude for the financial support for this program from anonymous donors.

“We are sending out mailings, printing materials and doing all sorts of stuff that we couldn’t do without the generosity of donors. We want to thank them somehow since we don’t know who they are, but we honestly couldn’t do what we need to do without them.”

Those who want or need to connect to the care package documents directly can access the do so through the google document link:

The group has plans in the works for a number of other outreaches to students in the weeks to come, according to Bradley.

Bradley is grateful for the tremendous support for the SOS program.

“This program probably wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without the generous donations and incredible wisdom of many community members,” he said. “The program has also been embraced by all of our administrators, teachers, and other staff members. Together, we are bringing this program to life at Sisters High School.”


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