By Shaylene King, Community Matters Trainer
When I began training with the Safe School Ambassadors® Program almost five years ago, I knew it was the solution to positively change school climate on campuses. What I didn’t realize, however, was that Safe School Ambassadors not only changes school climate, it changes lives. I know we all have stories we could share to affirm the work we do but I want to share three that have been pivotal to me in recognizing how lives of the past, present and future have been changed because of our Safe School Ambassadors Program.
Past: A few years ago, in conversation with my waiter after an SSA training, I mentioned why I was in town. Tears pooled in his eyes as he told me he was once a Safe School Ambassador. He shared how the job and actions as an Ambassador were life skills he’s used in his everyday life with friends, coworkers and even his family since graduating from high school over 20 years ago!
Present: Recently after debriefing the training activity Just By Looking, a student gave me a note which read, “Thank you. I’m so excited to have a family group because it’s the first time I’ve ever had a real family.” I’ve seen this activity bond students, adults and family groups but I didn’t understand the magnitude it could play in the life of one student individually.
Future: A Counselor and SSA Program Advisor I’ve worked with for 3 years shared with me how two Ambassadors thwarted a school shooting when a student showed them a gun and stated how he planned to use it. The Ambassadors noticed the type of mistreatment, had to think about what to do and chose the action Getting Help, quickly going to an adult they trusted. Students from this school who might not be alive today have a future because Ambassadors did the job we’ve trained them to do. That’s the power of the Safe School Ambassadors Program!
Shaylene King is an author, educator, anti-bullying activist, and trainer with Community Matters. She is the founder of The Mean Girl Extinction Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to end girl on girl bullying.