Sources of Strength Train the Trainer

Throughout 2015 Sources of Strength has continued to grow and expand. This is our seventh year of Training For Trainers/Advanced Coordinators across the US and Canada. These trainings are multi day sessions that teach local trainers how to implement the Sources of Strength program with fidelity to our best practice/evidence based standards.  This past spring we provided T4T’s sessions in Winnipeg, Ottawa, and New Jersey.  

Check out these photo’s from our Summer 2015 T4T/Advanced Coordinator sessions in Denver, Savannah, White Mountain Apache Arizona, and Fairbanks (Tanana Chiefs Conference).  Participants came from middle and high schools, colleges and universities, mental health and community programs, faith based and recreation-based programs all focused on expanding Sources of Strength. Our participants represented an incredible diversity of cultures and brought great spirit and skills to our efforts. We played lots of games, learned from our community partners about what is working in their areas, practiced and honed our training and facilitation skills, and were continually inspired and encouraged by the incredible people we get that privilege of partnering with across the world. 

We are excited about our expanding work with Latino/Hispanic communities, LGTBQ outreach, start of French-Canadian efforts and translations, faith-based efforts, school, village, urban, and of course with our ever expanding efforts in Native American, Alaskan, and Canada 1st Nation communities.  This Fall/Winter we’ll provide T4T’s with the California based United Indian Health, as well as Australia (Black Dog Institute) and New Zealand.  
It wouldn’t be Sources of Strength without laughter, fun, and learning that games aren’t
just games, but strategic and purposeful. 


A Key T4T component is to help make our trainers AUTHENTIC, by applying and using the strengths in their personal lives. 


Time is spent on teaching theory, method, and research behind the curriculum as well as the power of
positive norming in our peer messaging and how we use social network connections to spread Hope, Help, and Strength.  Trainers develop a deeper understanding the curriculum, intent of each module, and the why and purpose of the sequencing. 
Exciting things are happening at Sources of Strength as our great partners spread an Upstream prevention model that lights up their corners of the world.  

Sources of Strength adventures in Alaska

We recently returned from a 2-week trip to Alaska, training in Fairbanks with Tanana Chiefs and traveling to Fort Yukon and Venetie to work with peer leader teams and adult advisors in those villages. We were fortunate enough to be able to travel between the villages by boat on the Yukon and Chandalar Rivers. It was an amazing opportunity to be on the river and experience the beauty of the landscape. 


Here are some photos from our journey:

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Flying into Fairbanks


 Alaska T4T

Lots of games and lots of laughs at our training in Fairbanks. Such an honor to work with this amazing group of people and hear their stories of the great work they are doing. 

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Marianne Young, Doreen David, Katrina Gibson and Rowena Sam shared the work their peer leader teams have been doing in the villages of Tetlin, Huslia, Minto and Northway. Sources of Strength peer leader teams have woven Sources of Strength messages into anti-bullying campaigns, peer leader led water safety classes for younger kids, doing generosity activities like baking for elders in the community, swim parties, picnics, sledding, teaching cultural skills like drying meat, snowshoeing, fire building, berry picking and fishing. These adult leaders have been working with youth and adults in their communities to build positive relationships between teens and trusted adults  and to reduce bullying and suicide rates. 





We also had an opportunity to do a fun photo shoot in Fairbanks:



Then we were off …

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Flying to Fort Yukon 

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 Buddy/Constance Sources of Strength Alaska Tanana Chiefs youth suicide prevention 

Buddy our fearless boat driver and Constance our guide from Tanana Chiefs. 


Where the Yukon (brown) and Chandalar (green) Rivers meet. 


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We brought our media team to capture the journey and create images with peer leaders in the villages. 


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Peer leaders in Venetie write and draw the strengths in their lives. 

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Meeting with elders and adult advisors in Venetie. Special thanks to Myra Thumma for organizing the adult meeting as well as the peer leaders, for cooking for everyone and for taking great care of us while we were in Venetie!






Sources + CDPHE = Powerful Prevention in Colorado

Sources of Strength pilot program works “upstream” in seven schools to prevent the need for youth suicide intervention

By Jan Stapleman | Office of Communications
It’s an overused adjective, but well-earned by the Sources of Strength youth suicide-prevention program. It also applies to the way the program is being piloted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in seven middle and high schools across the state over the next two years.
Most youth suicide-prevention programs are designed to identify kids who are at risk of suicide and launch an intervention. In contrast, Sources of Strength works “upstream” to build a support system of connections to schools and caring adults that helps protect kids from needing such interventions. Suicide is the leading cause of death among Colorado children ages 10 to 17.
Research shows the program’s protective factors are effective against a range of problems, which is why the program is being piloted in an unusual way in Colorado, supported partially by CDC funds designated for rape prevention and education. 
“We know school connectedness is protective for suicide, sexual violence, substance abuse, bullying and more,” said Jarrod Hindman, director of the Office of Suicide Prevention. “It was unique and cool and innovative for the CDC to fund something that works across programs like this.”
The CDC funding, $70,000 over two years, will pay for implementing and supporting the program in the seven pilot schools: two in Adams County; one in Trinidad; and one each in Boulder, Denver, El Paso and Fremont counties. State funding from the Child Fatality Prevention System and the Office of Suicide Prevention paid for “train-the-trainer” sessions for personnel from the pilot schools and other Colorado schools that have local funding to pay for implementation. Having certified trainers in the schools significantly reduces the cost of implementation and can improve the program’s sustainability.
At the June 23-26 training, Sources of Strength founder Mark LoMurray led the Colorado educators, along with school counselors, local public health staffers and community youth group leaders from various states, through games they will use to prepare adult advisers and student leaders for their roles. The games, and the program, are designed to help teens identify and connect with their own sources of strength from eight possible realms: family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, generosity, spirituality, medical access and mental health. LoMurray demonstrated a light and fun approach, using the games to introduce a quick lesson, not a heavy moral imperative.
“We ask our mental health professionals to scrub that mental health language,” he said. “We use teen language here.”
Participants took turns leading the games in small groups. They practiced asking questions and summarizing lessons learned in a quick, light-hearted way, then evaluated their success. LoMurray’s son Scott, who has taken up the mantle of his father’s work as deputy director of the program, helped lead the small group practice sessions. This fall, he and other Sources of Strength personnel will go into Colorado schools and help the newly trained participants implement the program.
Mark LoMurray developed the program over his 40-year career as a social worker working with teens and young adults in crisis intervention and suicide prevention. In 2009, Sources of Strength was listed on the National Best Practices Registry by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In 2011, the program gained listing on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. The program was the subject of one of the nation’s largest studies on peer leaders and their impact in suicide prevention, with results published in 2010 in the American Journal of Public Health. Among other results, the study found:
  • Peer leaders’ connectedness to adults increased.
  • Peer leaders’ school engagement increased.
  • Peer leaders in larger schools were four times more likely to refer a suicidal friend to an adult.
“We will be the first to evaluate the program for sexual violence outcomes,” said Tomei Kuehl, supervisor of the Sexual Violence Prevention Unit. “This is all about taking an innovative approach to work across programs.”
“We used our partnerships at the local level to recruit schools for the pilot,” explained Colleen Kapsimalis, unit supervisor of the Child Fatality Prevention System. Kapsimalis said connections with the state’s local child fatality prevention teams helped identify interested schools. One of three recommendations made in the 2015 Colorado Child Fatality Prevention System Annual Legislative Report, to prevent youth suicide, is “expand implementation and evaluation of school-based suicide-prevention programs that promote resilience and positive youth development as protective factors from suicide statewide.”
Hindman said Sources of Strength is a priority for his office. “There are a lot of good programs out there designed to identify kids at risk and intervene,” he said. “But Sources of Strength builds a support system to prevent kids from getting to that point. Our hope is that five years down the road Sources of Strength will be in 100 Colorado schools.”