25 Years of Natural Helpers

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Natural Helpers at Harborfields!

Natural Helpers is a nationwide program that trains its members with peer-to-peer helping skills. It aims to annually select a wide diversity of members based on an anonymous school-wide survey, in which students are recognized as the person in their social subgroup that their peers naturally go to when they have a problem. According to the American School Counselor Association, “...peer support programs enhance the effectiveness of the school counseling program while increasing outreach and raising student awareness of services.”

This past weekend, 40 new Natural Helpers, 20 senior trainers, and a few teachers have embarked on a beautifully remarkable journey at the Quinipet retreat center on Shelter Island. The had time to self-reflect, as well as befriend people they would have not known otherwise. They particularly built on their knowledge in helping others.

People say that this retreat is a life-changing experience, but it is what goes on after the retreat that truly sparks a difference within our community. During weekly meetings, Natural Helpers meets during lunch periods to discuss ways in which we can combat the issues that are occurring in lives of our peers, as well as within the entirety of our school community. With the help of the advisors, Ms. Koenig (and we are celebrating her tenth year anniversary as a Natural Helpers advisor this year!) and Dr. Harris, Natural Helpers has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that HF is a place of peace and light.

Jen Bautista, a freshman who has just went on this year’s retreat, goes on say that “Natural Helpers has opened [my] eyes to a world of new ways to guide people to makes their own decisions!”

Natural Helpers reaches the community in a variety of ways beyond Quinipet; it hosts a spring retreat in which members can continue to build up their helping skills, for example. It also works hard to make new students feel more comfortable and welcome at HF with a “student mixer.” Additionally, a few members of the Natural Helpers program are peer mentors for social skills groups, while during the holiday season, Natural Helpers collects home necessities, clothing, and holiday gifts for those in our community in need.

Vice President of Natural Helpers and senior trainer, Christina Amari, says that “Natural Helpers is an extremely impactful program enabling the students of HF to serve as a helping community for their peers,” and I couldn’t have put it any better myself.

Julia DeVita