Story by Eddie Zhou
Illustration by Alicia Zhang
Peer Mediators has increased its crucial role at SPHS as distance learning has greatly impacted students’ mental, emotional, and physical health. These negative effects, along with recent nationwide calls to combat racism, have prompted Peer Mediators to focus more on ensuring students feel comfortable expressing their identities, using their voice, and maintaining their wellness.
The group consists of 19 students trained in peer support that host various events and activities throughout the year. These include support and wellness sessions, student-led panels, such as the BIPOC student panel held last month, and peer mediation sessions where students can resolve conflicts safely.
“Some of the easiest ways to get involved [with Peer Mediators] are sharing work for our monthly published Zine or participating in student-led panels to listen and talk about social justice issues,” Peer Mediators student leader Andrew Cheung said. “We also encourage students to join us in wellness events, and students can also reach out to us for mediation services if needed.”
As has been the case with all other programs at SPHS, the coronavirus has forced Peer Mediators to do its work virtually. However, the group remains confident that it can continue to support the student body.
“I would say that Peer Mediators has flourished in distance learning,” Peer Mediators advisor and English teacher Rama Kadri said. “Over the summer, Andrew Cheung had the brilliant idea to establish distinct subcommittees this year… Health and Wellness, Social Justice, and Zine and Art. This has allowed us to zoom in on our objectives, and work collaboratively and more closely within small groups to make sure that we’re meeting our goals and offering community outreach as much as possible.”
In the future, Peer Mediators plans to hold more student- led panels on LGBTQ+ and racial identities and continue to publish monthly zines in order to spread awareness about important themes, like multiculturalism for the month of November. The group has also been at the forefront of advocacy to normalize pronoun use, especially on Zooms. Amidst tumultuous times, Peer Mediators is committed to providing a beacon of love and support to everyone.
“Peer Mediators helped me feel more accepted and comfortable in high school,” Cheung said. “I was able to befriend a group of passionate individuals who are supportive and loving. Most importantly, I learned more about conflict resolution, the importance of mental wellbeing, and ways to spread love within my community.”
Students who wish to learn more about Peer Mediators can visit its Instagram @sphswellness, and those hoping to join the group can apply second semester.