WILMINGTON — Wilmington High School students in the Peers Helping Peers program recently engaged with Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart to share their experiences and the value of being involved in the PHP course.
Students work through modules from OCALI and earn their Autism Certification. According to the OCALI Autism Certification Center, the course introduces students to the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder and dispels common misconceptions through the perspectives of individuals on the autism spectrum.
Wilmington students in the PHP course are paired with students with disabilities to provide academic and social support.
Alyk Lippencott, a senior at Wilmington, decided to take the course for the first time this year. Alyk shared that what he most enjoys working with his peers is seeing their academic growth and how the peers become more confident in social situations.
Students in the program are also trained in a curriculum aligned to the Youth Mentor Hub organization to learn and apply mentor skills such as active listening and communication, productive questioning strategies, self-esteem and resilience building.
Senior Dylan Piatt has been involved in the program for three years. He developed, with his teacher Erin Henry, an independent study pathway to provide mentorship training to the other students.
“The skills I have learned in the program through peer coaching and administrative responsibilities will help me in my future career,” said Dylan. “What I really enjoy most about the program are the relationships and connections that happen authentically at events, in the hallways and at lunchtime with students that might otherwise be isolated from meeting different people.”
Emma Simpson is an 11th-grade student in the program and she is already planning her independent study to shadow and learn more about the role of the occupational therapist in working with students. During her time in the PHP class, she discovered that she is very interested in pursuing a career as an occupational therapist.
“I have learned a great deal about how to adjust working with her peers by using their individual learning styles and interests,” Emma said. “It has opened my eyes to all of the abilities of my peers”.
The PHP program helps to build a strong community at Wilmington High School.
Mrs. Henry shared what she loves about working with this program. “The students learn the value of being a positive role model. Everyone involved in PHP makes an impact by demonstrating the value of respecting the individual differences in all of us.”