Summerscool 2020 Saksham – self empowerment


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Summerscool 2020 – a unique venture motivated by lockdown. A web based platform for emotional fitness for 10-15 year olds.

Summerscool was started in 2013 as a project of Samarpan Awareness Foundation. It has been held three times so far in a physical classroom. It is an 8-10 days program held during the summer vacation for participants aged 10-16 years.
It is an interactive and experiential learning based workshop where we impart 1-2 life skills per day. The skills are taught through presentation slide show, videos, songs, anecdotes, role plays and theatre.
Now most of the work related to self growth is conducted under our new organisation – NICHE Advocacy Foundation.

Under NICHE Advocacy Foundation, during the lockdown period this time we conducted Summerscool 2020, for the first time in a web based version. A total of 10 participants enrolled and 8 interns and 2 junior executives were present as mentors and junior trainers. The participants were from Pune, Nagpur, Japan, Jalgaon. The interns were from Nagpur, Amravati, Gwalior, Datiya, Tikamgadh, A member from our advisory board, Dr. Ashwini Gijare, clinical psychologist in Pune, was present throughout as a silent observer.

Schedule of summerscool
Day 1 – active listening skills
Day 2 – critucal and creative thinking skills
Day 3 – problem solving and decision making skills
Day 4 – Emotion management and stress management
Day 5- empathy and effective Communication skills
Day 6- assertiveness and relationship management
Day 7- self awareness
Day 8 – skit presentation, free expression and expression of talents – this program was merged with UnHIDE (not just an open mic)
Day 9- DCS- interactive doubt clearing session (extra session prompted by children’s response and perceived needs)

The response of children has always been amazing. Because of their age they are not afraid of being judged for their thoughts. Sometimes I wonder who is the teacher and who is the learner. The honest, innocent and forthcoming questions asked by the children give us a fresh look at life.

The DCS – doubt clearing session was attended by the students even after the valedictory function was over. It was 100% voluntary and was held after the official summerscool was over. This was held for the first time, as after every session few students had doubts and questions regarding the techniques for emotional fitness that we taught them. They were very forthcoming with their questions. During Summerscool, we ran short of time especially for skills like emotion management and self awareness. So this time we decided to have an extra session for clearing doubts and discussing real life questions.

For the DCS, the kids had come prepared with questions about the emotional fitness skills. These were questions related to real life situations that were really bothering them. While listening to other questions, some silent members felt encouraged and safe enough to clear their own doubts.

Few Observations and findings from DCS –

1. A lot of questions were related to ACBBC, which is an oversimplified version of REBT (Rational Emotional Behaviour Therapy) - 12 year old R expressed that he feels Guilty very quickly and very deeply and then he broods over the guilt. Whether same techniques of ACBBC, that are suggested for sadness and anger, can be used to manage the guilt? Or is there some other way ?

2. In the ACBBC technique, we discussed in detail about the changing of B and how we must question the B, our belief system and ask ourselves whether it is a thought or a fact. If it is an irrational thought that leads to an overwhelming difficult emotion, then it has to be changed. If however, it is a fact, then we need to either strengthen ourselves our seek help from the right sources.

3. We discussed about resilience building and asking for help in an assertive manner.

4. How do we say a thing is rational or not? This was asked by A1. So then we discussed how to differentiate between rational thought that has a backing of reasonable proof and irrational thought that might be born out of imagination and myth. We also discussed the parts of brain in charge of emotions (temporal lobe) and rational thought (frontal lobe).

5. How to control anger and it’s expression when we actually feel it? This was asked by 10 year old Y. And in our past experience, our school workshops have revealed that around 90% children have issues with handling of anger. Here we discussed immediate measures to get the brain back to balanced state by buying time to calm it down when actively angry. Anger hijacks reason. So before we do something we might depend later, we should do one or more of following actions - drink a glass of water, do reverse counting starting at 100, separate ourselves geographically from the situation that has angered us or distract ourselves with something else.

6. A2 asked how she could learn patience. We discussed self awareness. We discussed about clarity about what exactly we want, which skill, which attitude. At this juncture we also discussed about how we can develop our own skill journal. We should give ourselves a time of one month for one skill. Every week is to be taken as one step. We have to plan for the skill and every night we have to review our progress in that skill. We can rate ourselves with stars and monitor our own progress. Maintaining a skill journal was discussed.

7. Prayer is an important tool to be aware of the skills we want to develop. Making your own prayer is a good way of auto suggestion. We discussed guidelines of making our own prayer. And this prayer is to be said every night just before falling asleep.

8. Favouritism at home and silent treatment was discussed. The question was raised by 13 year old K. We discussed assertiveness. Ignoring and behaving badly in return cannot be the solution. Rebellion is a common response. Another response is of passive submission. A different approach has to be explored. K also asked what to do when friends ignore us.

9. This was a good place to discuss assertiveness and also resilience. 10. A1 asked about saying sorry and what to do if someone did not accept our sorry. Here again we discussed assertiveness. We discussed the importance of the right tone while communicating.

All discussions were in response to situations faced by kids in their ongoing life.
Kids are often affected deeply by what is going on at home, at school and on the playground. They are also faced with conflicts and confusions. And they too need guidance from safe sources.

In response to their enthusiastic and honest questions, we have planned a monthly open discussion of life problems scheduled for last Saturday of every month.

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