Child-to-Child Program Reaching New Heights

Posted on: November 27, 2009 Posted by: Manin Oem Comments: 0

Child-to-Child Program Reaching New Heights

The past few months have been busy for our Child to Child Team! With several Child Educators beginning to study at University, and one new mother on our team (congratulations Sak!), we have been seeking out new assistants and educators to help spread the team’s workload, to allow us to start new clubs, and to facilitate our new Youth Club pilot we plan to start next month.

Coupled with the hiring of new team members, PEPY’s Community Program Manager Khouth Awatd organized two trainings for the Child Club Team and interested young people. In October, more than 20 participants joined us for the first training, a practical introduction to the Child-to-Child methodology.

After discussing different active learning techniques, the different levels of child participation, and the ideas and methodology behind Child-to-Child, participants held their own mini-clubs. Working with groups of students from the area, participants led afternoon workshops on the importance of healthy teeth; working with students to research the importance of tooth care, to learn what most families do in the area do to care for their teeth, and finally to create a drama on how to effectively care for our teeth.

Last week, the same group participated in the second week-long workshop, an activity oriented Life Skills training, which included four days on PEPY’s first Low Ropes Adventure Course! To see pictures from the training, click here!

Awatd, the mastermind behind the ropes course and the Life Skills training, had her first experience with ropes courses while volunteering for a youth organization in Phnom Penh. On a weekend retreat, her group visited Cambodia’s only adventure park, located in the deep jungles of Preah Vihear province. The retreat focused on life skills such as teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity, using high and low ropes course activities to engage young people in pushing themselves to work together and find solutions to seemingly impossible challenges. Often, that meant pushing past fears and encouraging each other to trust in the ability of the team to support one another. They created human-supported bamboo ladders and climbed across blindfolded. They did trust falls and carried each other over imaginary walls. They found ways to work together without speaking while walking across raised logs. Throughout the week, they grew confident in their abilities. They saw that tasks they at first imagined impossible, in fact only required some thinking and teamwork.

When we interviewed Awatd one year ago for a position at PEPY, she told us how much her experiences on this particular weekend had meant to her, and how one of her goals was recreating this experience for others throughout Cambodia. She spoke about how she had recreated parts of this training for students in the village she had worked in during her time as a volunteer in rural Cambodia. Less than ten minutes into the interview, we knew that we found someone we wanted to join our team. This summer, Awatd accompanied the four PEPY students who attended Camp Sangmon in Vermont. During her time there she worked as a counselor on Sangmon’s ropes course as well, building her confidence in running her own small course and facilitating different leadership activities.

True to her dreams, Awatd has helped us create our own mini ropes course, borrowing, buying, creating, and modifying local materials to make as many of the activities as possible from what she had seen. Over 20 young people from Chanleas Dai have spent the last 4 days moving across giant toothpicks, working as a team to “walk” together across the pagoda grounds, finding ways to move their teams over obstacle courses, through spiders webs, and trusting each other to lead, support, carry, and catch one another.

Besides the laughter, teambuilding and fun, we hope the training encourages young people to believe in their own abilities to solve problems, work with others effectively, and reach their goals. We’re also excited for the five new part-time child club educators we have hired! After two weeks of training, working together and learning with one another, we have a strong team ready to begin the new year.