Buddy Circles: A Model of Peer Support to Promote Self-Awareness and Partnership for Change

Buddy Circles allow students to recognize themselves as leaders, to feel empowered in purpose, and to establish a sense of belonging.

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Buddy Circles are a formalized approach to self-advocacy and peer mentorship, and an avenue for collaborative strategizing for problem-solving. Born out of a naturally occurring conversation between peers who were able to express themselves without judgment, we were moved to keep the dialogue going in a meaningful, proactive way, and find opportunities for all students to participate.

Buddy Circles provide a safe zone for sharing thoughts, ideas, concerns, and vulnerabilities; and an opportunity to gain meaningful feedback and genuine recognition from a peer group without judgment.

Students take turns acting as the Center, and are able to communicate their needs without feeling criticized.   The Buddies, who are practicing compassion, understanding and respect, often normalize the vulnerable moments, and provide strategies and solutions based on their own experiences, or practice their empathy for what they might need in that moment.

Within this safe space, students learn the importance of building trust and that “what happens in a Buddy Circle stays in a Buddy Circle.”  They learn to respect and honor the sharing of sensitive information, and practice their empathy for a student who is comfortable sharing struggles with the smaller group, but not the larger class.

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