Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $993,101)
The School District of Palm Beach County (SDPBC) proposes to implement a project under Category 2, all other eligible applicants: training on preventing violence. Data shows physical attacks, campus disruptions, incidences of threat/intimidation and weapons possession are high in District schools. Survey results expose a troubling upward trend in violent behavior and reveal that SDPBC students do not feel safe or supported. As a direct response, the District will implement two evidence-based programs that educate students to identify, understand and respond to warning signs/symptoms in themselves and others, and empower them to report these signs and seek help from trusted adults.
teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) and Safe School Ambassadors (SSA) will be implemented at target high schools with the highest number of mental health referrals in the District; and, a student-led Mental Health Awareness Campaign will be implemented at 180 K-12 District schools. tMHFA teaches students the skills they need to recognize and help their friends with mental health and substance use challenges/crises and how to get help. SSA engages, equips and empowers students as peacemakers to improve school climate as they develop skills to recognize distress and intervene, prevent or stop mistreatment. The Awareness campaign, implemented through existing SAVE Promise Clubs, will increase student knowledge of resources and reduce stigma. Students see, hear and know things about possible dangerous behaviors and incidents that could occur; and, the proposed project gives them the skills they need to recognize these signs and take action. These student-centered initiatives serve as essential first responder prevention efforts that stop violence before it happens by educating and mobilizing students to help themselves and their peers. Over the 3-year grant period, 19,000 tenth grade students will be trained in tMHFA; up to 20 SDPBC staff members will be trained as tMHFA instructors; 18 school staff will be trained as Safe School Ambassador facilitators; 1,260 students will be trained as Safe School Ambassadors; and, 26 mental health awareness days will be held at 180 schools. Performance will be measured by tMHFA pre/post tests that demonstrate increases in knowledge and application of skills; documentation of student interactions with Safe School Ambassadors that demonstrate positive peer-to-peer relationships; and, visits to an online Awareness Campaign Resource Center that demonstrate access to resources. The project will result in reductions in violent incidents and improved school climates.