Pen Pals Strengthen Social Emotional Skills
Students at PEP Eastwood are strengthening their social emotional skills while making new friends. Principal Steve Byrd recently connected with a colleague from the Miley Achievement Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. This school in the Silver State serves students facing challenges similar to those served at PEP. Mr. Byrd believed students from both schools could benefit from getting to know one another. His colleague agreed and a new pen pals program was born.
“One thing we teach our kids is how to have a healthy discussion,” said Mr. Byrd. “You don’t put people down when their opinion is different than yours. This program gives them the chance to practice these skills.”
The program was rolled out in April to one high school class and one middle school class and was met with a lot of enthusiasm from both schools. Rather than a traditional letter-writing format, PEP Eastwood’s pen pals program takes place online where the students can speak face to face. The kids enjoyed an ice breaker activity and then had a chance to talk with one another.
“We’re looking forward to continuing with the pen pals,” continued Mr. Byrd. “The kids enjoyed making new friends and hearing from other young people from another part of our country.”
At PEP, many of the kids we serve have struggled to make friends in a typical school environment. Mental health issues, trauma, and the chronic stress many of them face mean that some kids have not developed the skills necessary to build meaningful friendships. Special opportunities such as PEP Eastwood’s pen pals program give these students a chance to work on the skill of relationship building — a critical life skill that isn’t part of a traditional curriculum.