The staff and volunteers in this term’s My Friends youth group were privileged to meet and work with so many enthusiastic and inspiring adolescents. It was pleasing to see the participants at ease so quickly and able to open up and partake in group discussions.
This term, we interviewed some of our My Friends Youth participants to find out what they thought of the whole experience. When participants were asked how they felt before coming to the groups, a common answer aligned with something along the lines of “quite nervous as I didn’t know what to expect”. Most of the participants had never done a similar program before, so a lot of the content taught and the way in which it was delivered was fairly new to a lot of them. As the weeks progressed, many felt their nerves dissipate only to be replaced with feelings of excitement and comfort. *James (12), compared coming to the group sessions to going to a friend’s house.
When asked what their favourite part of the program is, answers varied from “The relaxation activities and mindfulness” to “The interactive activities where we all get to work together as a group”. A favourite of James’s was the no shoes part! *Annie (11), really enjoyed the group discussions where everyone got to share their answers. She said she learnt so much just by listening to other people’s experiences and suggestions. During the groups, a noticeable favourite activity was the warm up activity. We began each session by going around in a circle and saying what we are thankful for and something kind we did for someone else. This kind of positivity from the get go helped everyone settle in and open their minds.
What useful skills did the participants learn and when will they use them? According to *Jennifer (13), she has learnt how to better interact with others in a social setting and is looking forward to using step plans to help her work through future challenges. She has found that the skills taught are helpful to use in everyday life and she will try to implement many of them into her daily routine. Another participant said that she’s more appreciative of her friends and brother and will make an effort to be kinder to them. A couple of participants mentioned that over the past 5 weeks they have already been practising breathing exercises before bed in order to relax.
In conclusion, the end of our Term 3 My Friends Youth was bittersweet. There was a lot of excitement to have accomplished the course however we will miss all of the lovely participants!
We now look forward to our Term 4 groups commencing at the end of October.
The FRIENDS Team.
*names changed for privacy reasons