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No call too small for Kids Help Phone

Jess, a counsellor with the Kids Help Phone, talks to high school students to raise awarneness of the service. - CHUNG CHOW / BLACK PRESS
Jess, a counsellor with the Kids Help Phone, talks to high school students to raise awarneness of the service.
— image credit: CHUNG CHOW / BLACK PRESS

It’s one of many calls to the Kids Help Phone (KHP) that stand out in Duane’s memory, the one from the young high school student who was worried her friend was in trouble.

The 14-year-old had discovered that her pal, a star volleyball player who seemed to have lost her zest for life, had turned to alcohol to try and deal with her parents’ divorce. She found her alone in the forest, bottle in hand, and the pair cried together.

Then, her friend swore her to secrecy.

The teen had called the help line, where Duane works as a counsellor, trying to figure out how to help her friend without breaking her promise of secrecy.

Talking through the issue, she figured out who to turn to and how. Later, Duane received a message; a thank you from the troubled teen the caller had wanted to help.

It’s just one example of where KHP can help, he told Semiahmoo Secondary Grade 8 students recently, during a stop on the KHP School Tour.

“I’m not trying to tell you guys that contacting Kids Help Phone is going to change your world,” Duane said. However, “talking about your feelings with somebody you can trust at any point can be helpful.”

The tour aims to boost awareness of the toll-free, anonymous help line amongst students across Canada.

It’s also to show students that the people on the other end of the phone or responding to online questions are real and genuinely want to help, no matter how big or small the issue.

“It’s just to increase awareness and to put a face to counsellors,” co-presenter Jess, said later. “It gives us a chance to connect with the kids.”

Youth call the 24-hour help line – or seek advice online – for all kinds of reasons, the students heard, for everything from advice on how to deal with a bully to how to make tea. No call or question is too small, the counsellors stressed.

“Every call to us is important, no matter what the intention,” Duane said.

Semiahmoo Secondary was one of only two Surrey high schools picked for the presentation.

Elgin Park Secondary also hosted Duane and Jess, a counsellor.

The tour, presented by Motorola’s Raise Your Voice program, also went to Vancouver and Victoria.

Semiahmoo is home to a Kids Help Phone club that boasts about 50 members and “is growing annually,” said club leader Adeelah Saad, whose sister founded the effort at the school. Members promote KHP in elementary schools and to their peers, as well as do fundraising in support of the service. Saad estimated they’ve raised $1,000.

It’s a cause the Grade 12 student takes to heart outside of school, too, as chair of the KHP Surrey/White Rock Student Ambassador Council. She plans to continue her connection into her post-secondary years.

“It helps kids in need,” Saad said.

She’s confident at least a few of her peers will take advantage of the confidential counselling service as a result of the presentation.

Jess and Duane said the odds are high that calls will increase as the tour progresses.

During the inaugural 2006 tour, “as we crossed the country, calls went up,” Jess said.

To access the Kids Help Phone, call 1-800-668-6868 or visit www.kidshelpphone.ca

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