Life skills are essential for teenagers, especially those living in orphanages. When teenagers grow up in orphanages, they often do not have as much time to interact with adults as they would at home.
So what happens when parents and adults do not spend much time with children during this age? They seek and find information from other sources, such as the internet social media. Just as teenagers at home need help from their parents to acquire appropriate information, our teenagers living in orphanages need help during this difficult period.
In 2016, we tested some mentoring activities such as art classes, Good Deeds project, Youth camp. These pilot projects have made positive impact on how our teenagers at SS3 behaved viewed themselves. The art classes were a fun, engaging way to introduce life skills and values. We mobilized passionate, positive young adults to teach photography, music and dance. As teenagers explored these options, they gained a better understanding of themselves and their own interest. Through these classes, we used every opportunity to affirm our teenagers of their self-worth. For example, every student in the photography class received a framed print of their work to display in the orphanage. The music class students performed the songs they’ve learned in our summer camp. The routines taught in our dance class are used when the orphanage have guests gathering and ceremonies.
The Good Deed project started in May 2016 and concluded on Christmas. For this activity, we implemented a point system in which teenagers received points for every good, positive action they performed. Negative actions deduct points from their individual account. After 7 months of accumulating points, teenagers with the highest points were rewarded with prizes based on wish list. Those with highest points received most number of gifts. We designed this activity to give our youth a frame of reference for their actions, and to encourage positive behaviors.
The youth camp was the highlight of our progress last year, as we were able to connect with our teenagers on a deeper lever. Allowing us to understand their deepest fears, worries and feelings. After this camp, we observed a group of leaders emerging from the big group. These are the high school boys, who has 1 or 2 years till graduation. This was an encouraging sight for us, as we can help build this leader group to influence other children in the orphanage. They act as a bridge between us and other children who are harder to reach and connect.
Realizing the need for support and guidance, we designed a more holistic program to consistently build our youth. For 2017, the biggest addition to already running projects is our Big Brother Big Sister project. With the goal of equipping our youth with life skills before 18 year old, we needed professionals who can effectively transfer those skills to our teenagers. We sought help from the Social Work Faculty of Hanoi National University of Education. After sharing our mission and goals, our contact, Ms. Mai was on board. We decided to use excellent senior year students from the faculty to teach life skill classes. Our plan is to develop this group experience into one on one mentoring experience. From March to June 2017, we will hold weekly classes to introduce life skills to our youth. This pilot period aims to build relationship with our youth, and assess each individual teenager (Small) to match with an appropriate mentor (Big).
Below is the curriculum we are using for this period:
|Session 1: Self Awareness|
|Session 2: Self Awareness (continued)|
|Session 3: My emotions|
|Session 4: Me and my friends|
|Session 5: Teamwork|
|Session 6: Video game, internet, and social media safety|
|Session 7: How am I changing?|
|Session 8: Gender and gender equality|
|Session 9: Love and relationships|
|Session 10: Sexual assault prevention|
|Session 11: Seeking help skills|
|Session 12 & 13: Summer Camp Preparation|