The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest
2006, Vol, 6 No. 1 .
You Are Welcome: Activities to Promote Self-Esteem and Resilience in Children from a Diverse Community, including Asylum Seekers and Refugees, and New in Our Nation: Activities to Promote Self-Esteem and Resilience in Young Asylum Seekers
Pamela Allen, Ben Harper, and Jay Rowell and Pamela Allen, Ian Warwick, and Jay Begum
London: Lucky Duck Publishing Ltd, 2004, 72 pp, ISBN 1-90431-533-X and London: Lucky Duck Publishing Ltd, 2004, 117 pp, ISBN 1-9043152-1-6
|I recommend these two books to anybody who is interested in group work facilitation, including educators, community youth workers, social workers and psychologists. They have a practitioner?s focus and provide excellent guides and ideas to promote self-esteem and resilience in children and youth from diverse communities, including asylum seekers and refugees. They include preventive strategies and the group work programme aims to promote emotional literacy and well-being for groups of between 3 and 12 young people. Each book includes detailed session outlines, from the aims, plan for the session, materials needed, etc. It also provides excellent icebreakers, methods of ?check in? and ending of each session, trust games, additional notes of consideration and preparation suggestions. Additionally, what contributes to the usefulness of the books is that it includes a CD-Rom in each, which allows you to print all the session activities, evaluation sheets, colourful posters and parental consent letter. What I particularly like about both books is that they present and encourage the use of various arts-based and creative playful methods of expression and communication during all the sessions, e.g. name games, badge making, affirmation cards, reward stars, poetry, prose, painting, collages, lifeline, taking pictures, rhythmic clapping game, mind maps, creature from another planet, guided imagery, post cards, if I were the Prime Minister, and keeping of a journal.
You Are Welcome, includes 6 sessions relevant for pupils in primary school between 8 and 12 years old, e.g.:
Session 2 - who are we? (27-38):
? To promote awareness of factors that influence the way we feel about ourselves;
? To introduce concepts of how we see ourselves in the world, our likes and dislikes;
? To explore how society might judge us because of our looks, our image, our culture and our diversity;
? To think about how we can help young people to understand the different definitions that we have in society to describe people because of their race, culture, status, disability or gender.
Session 3 ? important things to me (39-46):
? To celebrate, explore and create a collage of memories, experiences and events;
? To support participants to communicate creatively many different aspects of their life;
? To create a piece of artwork that will identify and recognise important people, places and things in their life.
Session 4 ? similarities and differences (47-55):
? For participants to understand that everyone has strengths, weaknesses, similarities and differences;
? To appreciate the richness of culture and experiences that exists in society.
Session 5 ? what is it like to be different? (57-62):
? To promote empathy and social skills;
? To use a safe activity for children to express their feelings about being different or new.
Session 6 ? my shield of strength (63-70):
? To help participants explore systems of support available to them;
? To help participants build up a picture of their individual coping strategies and identity;
? To build up a personal profile in visual collage form of all the things that they find helpful and protective in their lives.
New in Our Nation, includes 8 sessions relevant for pupils in secondary school between 11 and 18 years old, e.g.:
Session 3 ? role-models (37-51):
? To introduce positive role-models;
? To begin thinking about systems of support that can help in dealing with life?s adversities;
? To introduce asylum seekers and refugee role-models from around the world that have contributed to society and made successful achievements in their lives;
? To introduce the notion of self-esteem and how feelings of worth can be affected by internal coping strategies as well as other people?s attitudes and behaviour towards us.
Session 4 ? poetry and painting (53-61):
? To explore alterative media to express our feelings and thoughts about refugee experiences;
? To use poetry and prose, painting and visualisation to discover ways to express personal stories.
Session 5 ? history, legislation and My Bill of Rights (63-79):
? To explore the history of asylum and how legislation has evolved and changed;
? To begin thinking about the participants? own personal journeys and important events in their lives and to record them;
? To help the participants develop their ideas of the rights newly arrived people should have.
Session 6 ? Agony Aunt (81-91):
? To explore cultural, trans-generational and personal issues that young people may encounter and to help develop a problem-solving approach;
? To use case studies of problem situations to allow participants to think about what support may be available to address some of the difficulties.
Session 8 ? hopes, fears and dreams (101-112):
? To explore individual aspirations and hopes for the future;
? To consider realistic options and to look at what they need to do in order to achieve their goals;
? To run through exercises that help to plan for the future, using a career lifeline to explore the options.
If you read these books from a purely research and academic perspective, you will be disappointed, as they were not intended for this purpose. A recommendation for future work would be to have these programmes scientifically evaluated, using pre- and post tests, e.g. the standardised measuring instruments of Hudson - Generalized Contentment Scale (GCS), Index of Self Esteem (ISE), and Index of Peer Relations (IPR). Furthermore, in the definitions section (34-37 and 25-26) they may consider also including Xenophobia to expand and complement the current range of concepts for discussion.
Building healthy and positive self-esteem in our children and youth is of utmost importantce, especially those that have been traumatised and are victims of violence and human rights abuses. Though our challenge still remains to include and transcend narrow ego- and ethno-centric national identities and to embrace and celebrate a world-centric citizenry.
Marlene de Beer, PhD Candidate, UNESCO Centre, University of Ulster, INCORE Associate
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