Mentorship from trusted adults is something that most of us are familiar with and some have even had the privilege of being mentors to youth and seeing it's positive impact.
However, there are also benefits to a less hierarchical approach to influence and "guidance": peer support.
Secondary school student Felicia* is one such peer support leader. She thrives on helping others overcome their struggles. As a peer support leader, she dedicates herself to being a listening ear for her friends and providing advice to fellow students facing challenges.
Felicia's motivation to help others stems from her own experiences in primary school, where she faced bullying and racist treatment. She was often stereotyped based on her race, and her classmates made unfair assumptions about her abilities.
Despite the negative experiences she faced, she chose to ignore those who were mean to her, recognizing that it was not worth trying to entertain negativity. Instead, she focused on herself and encouraged self-love, believing that "letting haters hate" was the best approach.
In times of serious struggles, Felicia got support from school counsellors, but for less severe issues, she turned to her sisters. If she couldn’t confide in anyone, she would turn to prayer and seek comfort and help from God. She believes that challenges are part of life and that God will help her no matter what.
Another one of her methods to help herself during tough times is to focus on self-care:
Having some alone time and relaxing in times of trouble and stress. She believes that self-care is essential and maintains a positive outlook to combat negativity.
Now, as a peer support leader, she has the ability to prevent others from going through the negative treatment she went through by guiding students through their difficulties. She directs them to school counsellors and actively participates in training meetings to better understand the struggles that current students face, such as self-harm and stress management.
She even designs motivational posters with bright colours and inspirational quotes to uplift her peers’ spirits.
During her own PSLE days, Felicia wrote motivational quotes at the back of her classroom to inspire her fellow students to persevere through the challenging exam period. Her ultimate goal as a peer support leader is to help students in her school persevere through their trials.
In parting words, Felicia offers sage advice to her peers and friends: live life to the fullest, embrace self-love, and never forget to enjoy the journey. She is a beacon of strength and positivity, proving that with resilience, support, and self-belief, even the most challenging struggles can be overcome.
*Real names have been changed to protect the youth's identity