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Impact Your Life: the power of knowing who you are as a youth

That's a wrap on the first part of the Heart-Centered Youth Leaders trajectory! From the middle of October till the beginning of November of this year, our Program Coordinator & Youth Worker, Josette Burke, organized 3 Impact Your Life workshops based on "youth personal development" at Centro di Bario Savaneta. These workshops were part of the first step in our ever-expanding journey to cultivating a culture of Heart-Centered Youth Leaders in Aruba. The trajectory falls under Impact Activities, which consists of workshops, seminars, and participatory activities for youngsters between the ages of 14-21. Impact Activities support youth in developing 21st-century skills like self-awareness, critical thinking, accountability, responsibility, collaboration, communication, and more.

The purpose of Impact Your Life is to answer the question 'Who Am I?'. During the 3 workshops, the participants learned about and how to apply the concept of the Self to their lives, what they stand for (principles and values), and what they want to achieve (purpose and impact). The first workshop was an ‘Icebreaker & Teambuilding’ session, where participants worked on building collaborative relationships by getting to know each other, strengthening their teamwork skills through different engaging activities, and engaging in different problem-solving activities. The second workshop followed up on the theme 'I Am - part 1', in which the participants focused on learning about the self, discussing what are their personal norms and values, giving scenarios on moral dilemmas to explore each other's way of thinking and acting based on their norms, values, and principles. And finally, the third workshop was based on the theme of 'I Am - part 2', in which the participants focused on learning about what is mission, vision, purpose, and impact. The third workshop also included a special guest speaker, Leonardo Phillips, who spoke to the youngsters about mission, vision, purpose, and impacts. During the workshop, he shared his story about his own purpose and how he walks and works in his purpose by knowing what his mission and vision are and being aware of the impact he would like to have on the world.

Our Heart-Centered Impact Coach (HCIC) candidates, who assisted during the 3 workshops were so impressed by the strong group dynamic between youngsters that they decided to organize a ‘Double Feature’ social event at YMCA San Nicolas. During this social event, all participants who completed all 3 Impact Your Life workshops received a certificate of completion. HCIC candidates Alyeska Lake, Ronan Van Putten, Gilmary Jansen, and Michayla van Varsseveld, a volunteer from the University of Aruba prepared engaging games that were linked to the themes the participants learned during the workshops.

A total of 9 participants between the ages of 14-19 had been recruited from secondary schools or through referrals from agencies. Although 9 participants had been recruited, only 5 had completed the set of 3-day Impact Your Life workshops. During the trajectory, the participants got to work in teams, understand their own roles in a group, get out of their comfort zone, be aware of personal norms & values, effective communication, recognize qualities in self and others, and self-reflection. The HCIC candidates supported the process of the activities by assisting in games and tasks and providing individual support to the participants during the workshop. In addition to this, we had also received support from volunteers who played an important role in documenting the activities by taking photos and videos, helping prepare materials necessary, and helping with the distribution of F&B. We were able to observe that many of the participants did not struggle to get out of their comfort zone. The group has developed a very close bond with one another, where they have become very supportive and empowering towards each other. They felt comfortable to be open and vulnerable with one another, and they have even expressed their interest in wanting to talk about certain topics as young people but not having the space to feel comfortable enough to do so.

Next year, we’ll host a follow-up series of workshops, Impact Your Future, which revolves around helping young people discover their talents, skills, dreams, and passions. Impact Your Future is one of our many Impact Activities that revolve around workshops and motivational sessions that enable the discovery and strengthening of personal and professional development and focus on helping young people to answer the questions: What are my abilities? What do I want to achieve? This will be the focus of the group of participants in 2022. We want to give a big shoutout to all HCIC candidates and volunteers who made this possible! Thank you for your endless contribution to the growth of the youth! And congratulations to the participants who got their certificates, you did it!

Stay tuned for the testimonials of the participants and more details of the activities taking place in 2022!

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