What programs or resources are included in Erika’s Lighthouse Empowerment Clubs?
We offer opportunities for students to take on leadership roles in their schools through Official Empowerment Clubs, Affiliate Clubs and turn-key campaigns called Awareness into Action Activities. Empowerment Clubs are good mental health clubs that normalize conversations by reducing stigma and encouraging help-seeking, all led by students themselves. These are typically after-school extracurricular clubs. Affiliate clubs are clubs that already exist in a school, such as a Key Club, a SADD chapter, or a kindness club, and they would like to partner with Erika’s Lighthouse to use our available activities and resources.
Official Empowerment Clubs receive funding from us to help lead school-wide activities, they receive monthly empowerment newsletters and are invited to participate in teen-focused and adult advisor-focused virtual meet & greets. We also offer a Mental Health Student Leadership Academy for club members, so they can increase their knowledge of mental health and depression, and how to be a trusted peer in their school. New training modules for the club sponsors will be available next year as well!
Theoretically, how do Empowerment Clubs make an impact in schools?
We believe that students, when given the opportunity and the right tools, can change the world for the better. Empowerment Clubs offer students the structure and support to take a leadership role in their school around mental health.
Students want to hear from other students, not adults all the time. So when students talk, other students listen. When students highlight the importance of learning about mental health they show their peers that there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. It demonstrates that those experiencing mental health challenges don’t have to hide.
Pragmatically, how do Empowerment Clubs make an impact in schools?
Empowerment Clubs allow students to be leaders in their school and are designed to take education learned in the classroom and activate their peers to make changes to their school climate.
Our clubs make a difference in their school communities in a lot of ways, here are just a few:
- Distributing “Encourage-Mints,” notes of encouragement with a mint attached
- Making and passing out Thanksgiving notes of gratitude
- Painting “Kindness Rocks” and placing them around the school campus
- Creating “Walls of Inspiration” on bulletin boards around the school
- Hanging up “How do you Feel Today?” flyers around the school
- Creating “I am a Beacon of Hope” signs for teachers to hang on their classroom doors
- Posting positive notes on lockers around the school
We have over 50 Awareness into Action activities that clubs and schools can use to make school-wide changes. The activities are broken down into categories – Advocacy Efforts, Education Efforts, Mindful Moments, Positivity Promoters, & You are Not Alone Reminders. These Awareness into Action activities are the “engines” for our clubs, however, anyone can use them in their school. We have lots of health educators and counselors utilizing these activities to promote good mental health in their school community.
How do Empowerment Clubs fit into the Erika’s Lighthouse framework?
Our programs firmly center on the student, allowing them to find their voices and speak up about mental health. By building up students in their school, they have the ability to share their knowledge with the community around them, and in turn, create a whole school and whole community that supports their physical and mental health. These building blocks provide students with the foundation to succeed and excel academically and socially.
Students have the power to change their school’s culture to be more positive, inclusive, and empathetic on issues surrounding mental health with an Empowerment Club and Awareness into Action Activities.
Now, can you please share: How do schools get started?
As you might know, once you log into our Resource Portal, you have access to all of Erika’s Lighthouse programs and resources including our Empowerment Club resources. If you are interested in starting an official or affiliate club, please contact Derick Elkin, our Empowerment Club Coordinator at Derick@erikaslighthouse.org.