Cheyenne’s South High School’s Safe School Ambassador (SSA) Program has students helping other students put an end to bullying. A South High Junior, Desiree Munoz tells us why she’s a part of the program. “You have to be here at school every day for a long period of your life and you shouldn’t have to live uncomfortable or be scared of people and be scared to come to school, because someone’s going to be rude to you, it’s not right. You should feel safe at school and be able to learn and not have worries on your mind,” Munoz said. Another student, Freshman LeShaun Wright agrees. “I care about kids getting an education and not having to worry about getting bullied or judged by how they look or how they act,” Wright said.
Students like the responsibility of helping other students, without much adult interference. “If there’s a student, there’s more of that peer-to-peer connection, where you’re like, ‘I’m your friend, we’re the same age. I know what you’re going through. Don’t get too deep into this, it’s not worth it,’” said South High Sophomore, Cody Smiley. LeShaun Wright said, “Some adults can’t understand, like, from a kid’s point of view, because they’re not really dealing with it, but kids can relate.”
These teens know that bullying can lead to serious problems in and out of school and they hope their comfort might help students think twice before hurting themselves or others. “It really bugs me down inside that somebody is going to make somebody feel so miserable where they want to take their own life,” Munoz said. They know that bullying can lead kids to hurt innocent victims as well. “Some kids, instead of committing suicide, they come in and hurt other people and then themselves, so it’s even worse.” Smiley said.
These South High School Students say they will continue being involved in the program throughout high school “It feels really good inside to know that you’re helping somebody and making their day better,” Munoz said.
”I think SSA is a great program that teaches and supports students to be leaders for a safe and supportive school community. Its strength lies in the fact that it places students as the leaders of that change. To my mind, that makes it more effective and it also enables students to practice leadership,” says Barry McCann, South High Special Education Teacher, South High SSA Coordinator, incoming Cheyenne Teachers Education Association President, and WEA member.
Teachers and administrators hand-picked student leaders to be involved in the SSA program, because they were seen as leaders within their own group of friends. Each SSA member had to complete a two-day training class at Laramie County Community College, in able to learn how to handle the physical and non-physical aspects of bullying. The students were taught not to get involved with any sort of physical altercation, but actually try to stop one, before it starts.