Peer to Peer 2.0: Level Up!

This article originally appeared in START Connecting in May 2023. 

In March 2023, we held our first Peer to Peer 2.0: Level Up training. Peer to Peer 2.0 emerged from a desire to communicate updated resources and content to established teams, dive deeper into advanced Peer to Peer content, and offer the opportunity for teams across the state to network and share ideas. We want to share exciting information about the next level of Peer to Peer.

Peer to Peer 2.0 was simply electric! The entire room buzzed with energy as participants learned from one another and made new connections. Team members highlighted aspects of their Peer to Peer programs that were points of pride and demonstrated greater opportunities for students. For example, one team hosted a Thanksgiving dinner fundraiser, while another created a “kindness” vending machine that distributed bags of cheer and kindness challenges. Another team explained their annual tradition of holding a cereal potluck. During the training, participants also joined “campfire” conversations to share information in small groups about how they implement different aspects of Peer to Peer. 

Friends smiling

Teams received a copy of the Peer to Peer Program Playbooks, reviewed the Fidelity Checklist, and were introduced to the Belonging Reflection Tool to help them explore ways to enrich their programs and foster belonging. Peer to Peer enhancement activities such as LINKS Boxes, Fridays for All, the Peer to Peer Padlet, and Empower One, Empower All were introduced. Additionally, teams learned about the Peer to Peer Secondary Curriculum Reimagined, which offers refreshed content and new ideas for Peer to Peer high school courses.

Teams had the opportunity to take a deeper dive into Peer to Peer topics beyond the scope of the foundational Peer to Peer training. For instance, they learned about telling their story through data and saw an example of data storytelling from the Southwest Michigan Autism Resource Team (SMART) Regional Collaborative Network (RCN). Program leaders also learned from each other by exchanging ideas on fundraising. 

Most importantly, the training put a spotlight on dismantling ableism through emphasizing the Participation Model. At its core, Peer to Peer is intended to promote belonging and improve outcomes for all students. However, if there is a hierarchical relationship between peers and students with disabilities, a culture of ableism quickly follows. As described in this Ableism 101 article, “Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior.” START will continue to share ideas and facilitate conversations about this topic to help Peer to Peer teams understand, recognize, and dismantle ableism in their schools and programs.

Thank you to all who joined us and helped make the inaugural Peer to Peer 2.0: Level Up a success. We had a blast learning alongside you! 

If you are interested in leveling up your Peer to Peer Program, consider the following opportunities:

Written by: Stephanie Pulido, M.Ed. (Program Evaluation and Resource Development Specialist) and Jamie Owen-DeSchryver, Ph.D. (Project Faculty) 

Page last modified May 22, 2023