The National Association of Peer Program Professionals has defined peer helping as a "variety of supportive services initiated by peers in diverse settings. Peers are individuals who share common characteristics and experiences."
Peer programs simply involve people helping other people. When people experience frustrations, worries, concerns, and other life events, they typically turn to their friends, not professionals, for help, advice, practical assistance, and support. The peer programs that the National Association of Peer Program Professionals support have various names such as peer helping, peer counseling, peer education, peer leadership, peer health education, peer mediation, peer tutoring, peer mentoring and others. Peers do not replace licensed or certified professionals or practitioners, but often serve as an extension of the services these professionals provide. Through much research and evaluation, peer programs have been found to be one of the most proven and effective prevention strategies.
The peer helpers are often times young people, trained and supervised by professionals, who adhere to ethics and standards endorsed by helping professionals and the National Association of Peer Program Professionals. Peer helpers often become preventive agents who identify problems and encourage others to seek the necessary help from appropriate professionals. Peer helpers provide people with opportunities for learning, guidance, emotional support, and growth which translates to reduced drug and alcohol involvement, higher academic skills, reduced HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy, reduced conflict, increased understanding of differences, and increased service to others. By helping others, peer helpers often increase their own self-esteem and personal functioning.
Because of the untiring and the unwavering support of the Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation, the Baldwin County Public School System currently has some form of a peer helpers program in each of the elementary, intermediate, middle, and high schools in the district.