LOCAL NEWS

Hope Squads nurture environment of inclusivity in Utah schools

May 26, 2022, 5:10 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:22 pm

MIDVALE, UtahFinding solutions to America’s school shooting crisis is a daunting proposition. But a program that is flourishing in Utah schools offers hope.

Hope Squads create a culture that supports students who are struggling and gives everyone a voice.

Right now, there are Hope Squads in more than 360 Utah schools. They cannot stop school shootings, but Hope Squads work with schools to create an environment in which that is less likely.

“We go into our classes and we talk about these things,” said Munashe Tanjani, a junior at Hillcrest High School and member of the Hope Squad. “We say, ‘Hey, are you struggling? What’s going on? Here are some methods that you can use.’”

“We strap hope to our bodies,” she said, pointing to her Hope4Utah T-shirt. “And we say we are advocates for hope, and we are here for you and we see you. That can be the one thing that somebody needs to save their life, to change their life.”

Hope4Utah is focused on suicide prevention and intervention. But Hope Squads also prioritize mental health and creating an environment of inclusivity in which all students feel valued and supported.

“So that students, when they come here, they know that they’re important, that they are seen, they’re welcome, and they’re safe at our school,” said Lisa Gardner, a Hillcrest High School counselor and Hope Squad advisor.

Gardner started the program at Hillcrest seven years ago.

Hope Squad members are trained to help fellow students, or even family members, when they’re struggling and need support. In class, they teach peers stress management, healthy living, and how to recognize when a person needs help or adult intervention.

“We just want the students to be kind and helpful,” Gardner said. “The more that we’re able to be in the classroom and encourage our students to be this way, then hopefully, we can ultimately have a culture in our school where all students feel welcomed and important.”

Lisa Gardner, a counselor at Hillcrest High School who started the Hope Squad program there seven years ago, poses for a picture with Hope Squad member and Hillcrest High School student Munashe Tanjani. Lisa Gardner, a counselor at Hillcrest High School who started the Hope Squad program there seven years ago, poses for a picture with Hope Squad member and Hillcrest High School student Munashe Tanjani.

Earlier this year, when rumors of trouble spread through school, Munashe discovered the true value of the Hope Squads.

“I got so many messages from people: ‘Hey, you’re on the Hope Squad, right? There’s this thing that I’m seeing, have you seen this?’ And, I went to my counselors.”

Nobody brushed off the warning signs, she said, even though no trouble materialized. Concerned students reached out to members of the Hope Squad.

“It was beautiful to see that, as an entire school, we banded together to solve the problem and figure out what was happening, as opposed to ignoring it and then something terrible happening.”

When students heard about the shooting this week, they supported each other.

“Consoling each other, like, ‘This happened but I’m here for you,'” Munashe said.

At Hillcrest, Hope4Utah has helped break down the stigma of asking for help.

“We can solve a lot of problems if we just talk to each other,” Munashe said.

Learning lessons for life.

“I’ve had Hope Squad students that have graduated, gone off to college, and have come back and said, ‘I’ve utilized the information that I learned while being on Hope Squad.’”

Click here for more information about Hope Squads.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

A photo of a tree blown over in a park in a Nephi from high winds on March 2, 2024, (Craig Oswald)...

Brianna Chavez

Strong winds leave behind damage across Utah

From uprooted trees to flying trampolines, most of the state experienced strong wind gusts that left behind damage for many.

2 hours ago

yellow tape crossing blue and red lights...

Mark Jones

18-year-old arrested for alleged involvement in a shooting death of another person

A 18-year-old man has been taken into custody by police in connection to a shooting late Friday night in South Salt Lake that left one person dead.

5 hours ago

Some residents in Salt Lake County woke up   and in one case, a vehicle.(Mark Less, KSL TV)...

Alex Cabrero

South Jordan residents react to waking up and seeing thousands of tumbleweeds in front of their homes

Homeowners in Daybreak react to waking up Saturday morning and seeing tumbleweeds surrounding their homes.

6 hours ago

Salt Lake City International Airport is also being impacted by the winterstorm moving through Utah....

Mark Jones

Delays, cancelations reported at Salt Lake City International Airport

Salt Lake City International Airport is also being impacted by the winterstorm moving through Utah.

7 hours ago

power outage map...

Cary Schwanitz

Rocky Mountain Power scrambles to repair outages affecting thousands

Rocky Mountain Power crews planned to work around the clock this weekend repairing power lines as winds up to 65 mph pummeled Utah.

7 hours ago

Several people in Salt Lake County woke up to tumbleweeds outside their homes, and not just a dozen...

Alex Cabrero

Tumbleweeds pile up in front of homes in Daybreak

Many people in Salt Lake County woke up to tumbleweeds outside their homes, and not just a dozen or so.

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Hope Squads nurture environment of inclusivity in Utah schools