Students at Princess Margaret Secondary have opened a Peer Listening Room as part of Youth Mental Health Week.
Last Tuesday the new space opened in the school’s counselling centre.
The group working on this project is led by the two Grade 12 students, Lexi Grady and Karsten Burton, who have both earned experience with mental health work during their high school years. Burton has suffered from depression and other mental health problems earlier in his life.
“This community needs ways to connect to people that are struggling with mental health. Princess Margaret Secondary had to deal with several cases of mental issues and cases of suicide in its history and our goal is to prevent such things from happening again,” said Burton.
On the opening day of the room, the purpose and function was shown to the attending students and staff to demonstrate “the positive impact that a space to calm down and talk can have,” as Grady said.
During the process of planning the room, Burton and Grady have received support from many different people in the school. The biggest helping hand in the project has been vice-principal Sandra Richardson.
“Mrs. Richardson always supported us with our projects, made suggestions for improvement and helped us organizing everything,” Burton said.
Richardson, who also is head of the leadership program at Princess Margaret, was surprised by the amount of people attending the opening event.
“I think the idea is great and Karsten and Lexi put so much effort into this room, where students that need help can feel comfortable talking to their peers,” said Richardson after the opening. “And, every student should have a space where they can just breathe and decompress.”
The peer listening space not only got support from people at the school, but from the community as well.
The Penticton Rotary Club took over the major part of the funds needed to buy some furniture and equipment for the room. It offers beanbags and arm chairs to sit in, colouring books for relaxing and even snacks to make the students using the room feel as comfortable as possible. Until the end of the school year the group leading the project will start working in the room and establish a schedule so that students have somebody to talk to all over the school day.