Leanna Clipper, 14, of Phoenix, Ariz., an eighth-grader at Sweetwater School, started a “Peer Share” club that pairs middle school mentors with younger students who are dealing with difficult personal issues, but are not comfortable discussing them with an adult. An avid volunteer, Leanna said she “loves helping my community and making the world a better place.” She started her club because she knew of students going through tough times but not being able to open up to anyone. “It breaks my heart to see students in trouble,” she said.
To start her club, Leanna wrote a detailed plan and presented it to her school social worker and principal. After they approved her idea, she made announcements at school, created and distributed applications, and selected peer mentors. So far, dozens of students have met with her mentors to discuss their problems and learn new coping skills. “We have already touched the lives of many students just by giving them a caring shoulder to lean on and a listening ear, with confidentiality and safety yet without judgment,” said Leanna. “We have helped students with family, bullying, homework and other school-related issues,” she said. In addition to forming her club, Leanna also has volunteered at her local food bank, participated as a speaker and tour leader during a school leadership day, created a dance committee at her school, and was a key member of an event to match kids with special needs with student “buddies.”