Peer Ally Coalition aims to create safe space for recovering students

Peer Ally Coalition and the Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center work together to provide a safe space for students to focus on recovery. Photo courtesy of Peer Ally Coalition

By Sarah Wang | Staff Writer

The new Peer Ally Coalition recovery student support leader aims to establish a safe and welcoming community for members who decide to join.

Based in the Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center, the coalition is a group of students who are either in recovery or students volunteering their time to promote abstinent living, recovery support and assist with substance use disorder education and stigma reduction on campus, according to the website.

Being an active member who always wanted to try something new, Tomball junior Araya Hines, recovery student support leader at the coalition, said she recognized the values of the support group and became actively involved in the community.

“It’s just supposed to be like a safety community where people can come together without worries about stressors,” Hines said. “Our goal is just to create a safe, fun time for individuals in college, because that can be hard to find. Our entire goal is to serve our community and its needs.”

As the student support leader, Hines said one of the most important things is creating a very welcoming, respectful environment that everyone gets to enjoy.

“We’re a tight-knit community that is very welcoming and unconditionally accepting,” Hines said. “One of the pillars of recovery is being unconditionally accepting.”

The Peer Ally Coalition participates on-campus in multiple ways, including playing intramural soccer this past spring. Photo courtesy of the Peer Ally Coalition
The Peer Ally Coalition participates on-campus in multiple ways, including playing intramural soccer this past spring. Photo courtesy of the Peer Ally Coalition

Hines also said the challenge Peer Ally Coalition is currently facing is obtaining new members because the recovery community can be a little uncomfortable for some. She said people may have very negative ideas of what substance use and alcohol use are like.

“They are not familiar with the community and I understand why they’d be uncomfortable, but it’s just something that we all need to become more educated on and accept more,” Hines said.

In addition to develop a more welcoming community and to educate the public, Hines said what she loved most about the coalition is that it gave her the ability to take responsibility for what was going on around her and create good things out of her creative ideas.

Hannah Zhang, Houston sophomore and vice president of the Peer Ally Coalition, said Hines is a natural leader, and said she feels blessed to serve with her.

“I can tell that she makes sure every [coalition] member knows that they are welcome and appreciated,” Zhang said. “Araya is such a great president. She knows what she is doing and makes the meetings and events fun and engaging. She is also very organized and on top of things, which helps the [coalition] run so smoothly.”

Zhang also said her experience at Peer Ally Coalition has been very meaningful, and that she is willing to spend as much time with the members as needed to create a positive environment through this is opened to everyone.

“I love the [coalition] and am so grateful for the opportunity to play a part in promoting education about and reducing the stigma of recovery with this amazing group of people,” Zhang said. “We would love to meet anyone interested in our organization.”