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Peer Assistance and Leadership

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Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL) is a peer helping program that seeks to build resiliency in youth by pairing youth with peer helpers who receive training and support from teachers participating in the program. The peer-based assistance provided through PAL is designed to help youth avoid risk factors for substance use as well as other problems, such as low achievement in school, dropout, absenteeism, violence, teen pregnancy, and suicide. PAL peer helpers act as guides, tutors, mentors, and mediators to peers or younger students (PAL mentees) by utilizing skills learned through PAL, including cultural competency, effective communication, decision making, higher order thinking, and resiliency building. PAL peer helpers are placed in helping roles with younger students from feeder campuses and peers from their own campus. Through a combination of leadership and assistance, they offer individual and group peer support, tutoring, welcoming and orientation of new students, assistance to students with special needs, classroom presentations, and school/community outreach projects. PAL mentees generally are referred to the program by a contact person at the service site because of concerns about the students' school performance (e.g., absences, tardiness, academic achievement) or personal or other problems. Students also can request to be referred to a PAL peer helper. PAL mentees are linked to specific peer helpers based on the needs of the PAL mentee and the skills and interests of the PAL peer helper.