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Peer Tutoring

Strength & Leadership

Empowering Youth Through Experiential Learning

Bremerton HS Students

Eliza Evans, our dedicated VOPIN volunteer, and John Perkins, our newest staff member, joined our Navigating Education afterschool program to meet our students and lead experiential activities focused on positive youth development and cultivating strong relationships.

Eliza shares her experience: "One of my favorite roles is as a facilitator utilizing experiential activities to foster positive youth development. This includes using carefully designed tasks and challenges to create environments where students feel safe, supported, and encouraged to explore different themes. Experiential activities promote positive youth development by fostering hands-on learning, enhancing social skills, and encouraging problem-solving. Through these activities, youth develop a sense of competence, autonomy, and a positive identity, contributing to increased resilience by building coping skills and adaptability. Initially, these activities feel often feel like fun, silly games. It is during the debrief that we start to identify the deeper themes these activities encourage us to explore. For this gathering, we only had time for two experiential activities so I chose ones that were active and engaging in the hopes that students would benefit from the activities and want to do more in the future. In introductions, we talked briefly about the importance of separating who we are from our emotions. Learning to separate one's identity from passing emotions enhances emotional regulation, equipping youth with effective coping mechanisms and adaptability. This skill reduces vulnerability to negative emotions like depression and anxiety. It also fosters positive interpersonal relationships and contributes to building a stable and positive self-concept, all of which increase resilience. Resilience is a key part of positive youth development as it empowers youth to successfully navigate life's challenges. Our first activity was 'Group Juggling'. Together, we established a pattern and then threw tennis balls to each other following this pattern. Youth engaged in problem solving, discussing what we needed to do in order to succeed at this challenge. In the debrief for this activity, we explored feelings of being overwhelmed. Youth talked about how they can recognize when they or their friends are starting to spiral and what steps they can take to mitigate this. Our second activity was 'Lonely Heart'. Youth were given cards in all four suits and directed to hold the cards to their foreheads without looking at the cards. They then were challenged to gather in groups by the suit on their forehead. During the debrief, youth talked about how they addressed this challenge, why people might gather in groups of the same “suit,” and feeling isolated. We also discussed how they can recognize feelings of loneliness and isolation in themselves and in other. We then talked about what we can do, both for ourselves and for others."