We sat down with our very own Linda Owusu, Youth Outreach Coordinator, to ask her five questions about her youth peer support group workshops:
Q: What are your Youth Supporting Youth workshops all about?
A: My workshops are tailored around peer support and effective skills needed to start and sustain youth led support groups, such as, communication skills, conflict resolution, active listening, confidentiality and leadership.
Q: Why is learning about peer support groups valuable to youth?
A: Learning about peer support groups is very valuable to youth because the adolescent/youth stages can be a very vulnerable and lonely stage for some youth who feel they do not have any peers or support or anybody to talk to. When youth learn what peer support entails, they can empower each other through leadership and gain confidence though group discussions and ongoing consistent support. They begin to recognize their own uniqueness through peer support groups.
Q: What types of exercises do you do in the workshops?
A: During the youth peer support group workshops we work on skill building exercises, such as emotional strength building and public speaking, which is very essential because it builds a lot of confidence in our youth. We then focus and expand on ideas and topics that youth what to talk about when they are running their own youth groups in the future. I do these exercises because sometimes the idea of starting a peer support group sounds bigger than it really is, so when you give the youth the opportunity themselves to decide topics of interest and develop group names, they’ve already began the process of a peer support group without even realizing it, which is empowering for them.
Q: Why are basic communication and leadership skills so important to peer support?
A: Those skills are important for peer support youth groups because in order to sustain a positive, honest, supportive group, we need youth that carry themselves as leaders in and out of the group. That helps build high self esteem for our youth.
Q: What are your hopes for the future of youth peer support groups?
A: I believe that with community support, and enough resources these youth peer support groups will be very successful in the future. Youth really need programs in their communities, where they can come together on a consistent basis. They need a safe haven where they can feel comfortable enough to share experiences and stories and grow through that process.