By: Staff Writer Andrew Chen
MSJ Peer Resource began offering a new program called Open Arms on Tuesday, November 4, outside of B34. The program is a walk-in peer mentoring program for any student that would like to talk with peer counselors, whether the issue is about a problem or not.
Peer Resource, the creator of Open Arms, is dedicated to raising positivity levels around campus, helping students deal with sensitive issues, providing support whenever needed, and making MSJ a healthier, happier environment. Peer Resource has been responsible for many activities and programs like the Stronger Than You Think anti-relationship abuse campaign, and also for the goals bed sheet and silver ribbon activities held previously this year.
Open Arms is similar to the main Peer Resource mentoring program, the buddy program, which started with the founding of the group in 2012. However, Open Arms is a casual peer counseling program that does not require paperwork or prior planning. In the buddy program, mentors are assigned to students who want to talk to someone or get guidance. The service is directed toward those who seek a continued relationship with a peer mentor, and it requires an application filled out by a prospective mentee or a recommendation by a parent or teacher. However, because many students requested to have one-on-one nonrecurring talk sessions, which were previously unavailable, Peer Resource created Open Arms. Peer mentor Harshita Gupta said, “[a lot of students] just wanted to talk to someone once but not regularly. And we know that people need to rant sometimes and let things off that they maybe can’t tell their friends and family, but that doesn’t mean that they need a peer mentor.” Before school on Tuesday and during lunch on Wednesday, there will be peer mentors outside of B34 that anyone is free to visit and talk to. Meetings are very flexible; students can stop by for any amount of time and can talk to either one or many peer mentors.
All conversations in both the buddy program and Open Arms are strictly confidential, allowing students to share whatever is bothering them. The peer mentors involved are carefully selected from the student body and are trained to be supportive and helpful. All interactions with Peer Resource counselors are completely confidential and are supervised by school administrators.
Anyone is welcome to participate by simply stopping by. The program is held outside of B34 from 7:30AM to 8:00AM on Tuesdays and during lunch on Wednesdays. Further counseling can be found through the buddy program, applications are available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or Peer Resource advisor Joanna Jensen.