Peer To Peer Training Camp 2016 Empowering Students To Be First Line Helpers of Emotional Needs

P2Ps preparing to colour the sky with their colourful kites.  A group photo with Befriender Malaysia’s trainers, Mrs. Gerry and Mr. Vincent. 
P2P with guest speaker, Mr. Ronald. P2P student-volunteers learning to extend immediate help to their peers with emotional needs. 
Achieving academic advancement need various support of different aspects. Psychological resilience with a healthy mindset is one of the most important factors for students to cope well in their studies and life. Well-aware of this, KDU University College recently organised the Peer to Peer Training Camp 2016 in order to train up an existing group of student-volunteers who are able to support their peers with emotional needs.

P2P, an abbreviation of Peer to Peer, is the name of this group who are trained by professional counsellors to promote mental health awareness in KDU campuses. The 3-day intensive training overnight camp, which began on 13th May, was organised by KDU’s Student Alumni Centre (SAC) in collaboration with Befrienders Malaysia and Malaysia Mental Health Association (MMHA).

P2P is also aligned with one of SAC’s working pillars for 2016, which is to spread happiness throughout the campus with its 2016 Happiness Project themed ‘Compassionate’. P2P generally require its student-volunteers to be a compassionate listener, to be able to identify and support their peers with personal concerns and further refer them for professional assistance.

Explaining more on the abilities of P2P student-volunteers, Senior Manager of the SAC Mitchell Liong, further said, “Our P2P student-volunteers are not only compassionate listeners, but they also must have a strong sense of empathy, and must be able to work hand-in-hand with school counsellors, in order to build a healthy and caring campus.”

In order to empower these student-volunteers, there were a series of talks and training sessions given by guest speakers and SAC counsellors. Guest speaker Mr Ronald Lee spoke about understanding group dynamics and also conducted the LEONARD Personality Inventory (LPI) Profiling, a tool to identify one’s personalities in depth; SAC counsellor, Ms Amelia discussed basic counselling skills, the counselling process and barriers to effective counselling; SAC senior counsellor Ms Hany Cheng’s sessions touched on values and believes; whereas another SAC counsellor Ms Chloe Wong spoke about respecting peer’s privacy and confidentiality, referring peer’s family and friends about their problem, knowing their limit and boundaries between the two person.

On counselling skills particularly, P2Ps took part in a role-play to personally experience how to counsel their peers. Their trainers highlighted that active listening and communication skills are crucial in any interactions and these skills are applicable in everyone’s lives without realising it. The participants realised, in active listening, being empathetic and having effective communication would be useful in a variety of settings. These exposures and realisation will definitely benefit young learners throughout their lifetime.

To all P2Ps surprise, the camp kicked into physical exercise with kite-flying on the second day of training. One of the participants, Chua Yun Chee, commented, “This is fun! This activity is not only a stimulating exercise but also allowed me to recall my childhood memories.”

Apart from these, there was also a screening of the movie ‘Click’, which starred Adam Sandler as a man who happily skips the boring times of his life with a magical remote control until he realises the remote is in control of his life and he learns to cherish all the precious moments with his family.

Yap Mun Kee, 18, a Diploma in Mass Communication student, said, “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned at this camp was through this movie. It tells me that if I want to have a meaningful life, I need to appreciate people and time. Meaning to say, I have to value everything that happens in my life.” Extensive sharing on the movie had greatly helped participants in understanding themselves on a deeper level.

Day 3 of the camp ended with a talk from Befriender Malaysia’s speakers Mrs. Gerry and Mr. Vincent. Both have been trainers for more than 8 years in Befriender Malaysia, a non-governmental organisation in preventing suicide. During the training, they explained on how to be a peer counsellor in a community as well as a good listener.

“It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience,” said Melvin Tan Kar Hua, a Diploma in Mass Communication student. “The camp was great, never a dull moment. I loved meeting new friends whom I could have interesting conversations with! The camp has really sparked my interest towards the true meaning of counselling, and I hope to be back next year,” he added.

P2P will also be arranging a wide series of activities throughout the year, one of which is the upcoming second training session which will be conducted in collaboration with MMHA on 23 and 24 July, to enable students to understand more on mental illness.