During my last prevention education class with a group of at-risk boys, I was reminded of how significant the work we do is in the lives of the youth that we reach. There is one exercise in which we hand the children a blank face printed on a piece of paper:
Inside the face, we ask youth to write some of the words they have heard from people in their lives—including their own families. Words that hurt or put them down. Then, we write some of those words on the board and process together how they have made us feel and what happens when we hear those words over and over again. After some time for personal reflection and mutual support, they get to cross out the negative words and write what they wish they could hear instead and what they would like to be known as.
Today, this is what was shared:
One of the most exciting and humbling moments during the prevention classes is when a student that previously had an attitude or seemed uninterested reaches that point when he takes a deep breath, relaxes his shoulders, makes eye contact, and allows me to see a little bit of his pain and hope. I am so proud of Love146 and the fact that for those moments, while we are with them, they get to hear and feel that they are respected, they are not disappointments, and they in fact do have a future.
Thank you for enabling us to work alongside these precious youth!