To encourage students to help others, including their peers.
Youths of ages 12 to 14 like to be helpful, but often overlook opportunities to help other youths. Because they are so concerned about being accepted at this age level, they generally do not feel comfortable asking their peers for help-because that might be perceived as a sign of weakness.
Using stories that students have clipped from a local or state newspaper, discuss problems in your community or state and examples of ways in which civic groups, social service agencies, religious groups, and others are helping (examples: a local community group helping immigrants resettle; a nonprofit group providing after-school care for children). Discuss how helping people find jobs and housing, child care, medical care, and other assistance helps the whole community.
Explain that communities need help from youths, and point out that one way youths can contribute to their community is by helping their peers. Ask students to suggest ways in which peers may need help (examples: improving academic skills, learning a new sport). Have students write a few of these on the board. Discuss why it may be difficult for young people to ask peers for help, and how asking for and accepting help can be signs of strength.
Discuss with students some actions they might take to help peers (tutoring in academic subjects, visiting someone in the hospital, coaching someone in a sport, conducting a school clothing drive for needy youths).
Ask students to select one idea and write a brief proposal on how they intend to help someone their own age (note: tell students they may keep confidential the person's identity).
Ask a few students to read their proposals, and discuss how often they might want to commit themselves to helping (example: only once, once a week, once a month). Ask students to report to the class periodically about their helping experiences.
• Create a "Peers Helping Peers" bulletin board where students can sign up for specific helping projects within the school. Assign a peer-helping leader to help direct each project.
Learning to Live Drug-Free, A Curriculum Model for Prevention, U.S. Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program