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Impact Cafés to empower youth to reflect on what helps them grow

HCLF envisions a society of young people who know who they are and have the capacity to make positive choices that allows them to grow into resilient individual. However, the question “do you know who you are?” can be challenging to answer, especially for youth who experience realities that can have considerable influence on who they become.

In our recent Impact Cafés, we address this question head-on with the topic of “Becoming You”.

We facilitated 3 Impact Café sessions in October that focus on bringing young people closer to knowing not just who they are, but rather how they along with their surroundings and their environment are contributing to their personal growth. The three Impact Cafés were facilitated for 3 different groups: Gianni’s Group, the Orthopedagogisch Centrum (OC), and YNZ Montessori. A total of 45 youths participated, ranging from ages 12 to 17.

To help the participants understand the meaning of this topic “Becoming You”, we used the metaphor of a tree as a symbol for their own lives.

To get their brain gears steering, we highlighted the connection shared between trees and humans by asking the participants to name examples of strong qualities of a tree. Answers shared during this exchange included the resiliency of trees, that leaves make them unique, and that they can withstand challenging seasons and stages of life while remaining strong because of their roots. The purpose of this shared interaction was to promote awareness of knowing their beliefs, values, and qualities, allowing them to relate to each other and feel like they have things in common despite their differences.

After learning about trees as a metaphor for life, the participants were able to reflect and discuss three questions with the assistance and guidance of our Heart-Centered Impact Coaches, who facilitated the process as hosts and co-hosts in groups: what is helping their tree to grow, what is currently limiting/disturbing their tree to grow, and how can they or those in their environment help their tree to continue growing?

At the core of its purpose, Impact Café promotes the development of skills and qualities such as positive self-talk, internal conflict resolution, self-expression, respect, empathy, listening before reacting, critical thinking, problem-solving and solution-focused thinking. Questions asked during Impact Cafés prompt participants to think about what is going well, what is not going well, and what solutions they would like to see to improve how they experience a topic or situation. These moments of reflection for participants provide contrasting realities of each individual’s experiences allowing self-awareness, compassion, and acceptance to develop and allow them to uplift each other.

To close the session on a relaxing note, the participants get to pick a positive affirmation that they feel truly connected with them. Followed by three deep breaths and a body scan exercise; enabling the participants to direct their focus on various points of their body such as toes, feet, hands, and shoulders. Throughout this exercise, the participants got to shake off any emotions that could have been evoked during the group session, and by repeating the positive affirmation they chose are able to be mentally and emotionally brought back to a safe and centered place where they feel in balance.

Here’s what some participants shared about their experience and what they learned during Impact Café:

“I learned new things about myself and that I am not alone in the problems I experience as there are others who experience it too”
“ I learned how to help myself calm down, relax and refresh”
“ I learned that in order to be yourself you have to know yourself”
“ I learned that I can be a better person by making better decisions”
“ I learned how to open up and reflect”

HCLF will continue to host Impact Cafés in 2023. Stay tuned for more information!

HCLF thanks YNZ Montessori and the Orthopedagogisch Centrum for their collaboration, and Gianni’s Group for trusting us to offer this workshop.

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