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The Youth Resilience Programme: Psychosocial support in and out of school

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Save the Children Denmark

The Youth Resilience Programme: Psychosocial support in and out of school has been developed by Save the Children as an independent continuation of the Children’s Resilience Programme. The programme is a nonclinical psychosocial and protection methodology and framed within the concept of ‘I AM’, ‘I CAN’ and ‘I HAVE’ to capture the complex interaction of individual and social factors that facilitates resilience. The heart of the programme is a series of 8-16 structured workshops implemented by the same 1-2 facilitators once or twice a week, for the same group of young individuals aged ~14 and above.

The workshops aim to help young people to:

  • Resume normal, routine activities during or in the aftermath of crisis events.
  • Have strong personal and social skills to adapt to and cope with adversities.
  • Feel good about themselves and confident in their own abilities.
  • Make good and safe life choices.
  • Be more social and act as role models to other children and young people.
  • Trust others and feel comfortable about sharing feelings and thoughts.
  • Seek help from others (i.e. peers and adults) when needed and have stronger awareness about who can help.
  • Solve problems without violence.

The programme uses techniques, which have been proven effective in building the resilience of young people, creating a Fun, Safe and Inclusive environment conducive for this purpose. The active participation of youth is a fundamental feature of the programme, and it encourages the participants themselves to take the lead in mapping issues within their communities and lives and in identifying specific skills and qualities to be strengthened through the workshops.

The Youth Resilience Programme includes workshops on skills offered in life skills-based education that deal with emotional and interpersonal capacities. However, as part of integrated programming, other forms of life skills should also be worked on in the programme, such as sexual and reproductive health or vocational training. These different types of skills reinforce each other. For example, life skills such as building up self-esteem, problem-solving, critical thinking and decision-making determine wheth­er a young person’s knowledge and experiences are put to use in a constructive way for the individual and society.

The programme is furthermore embedded in a systems approach and takes into account the protective social network of young people at family and community level. The youth workshops are complemented by sessions for parents and caregivers to promote their understanding of the challenges that their children are facing and provide them with skills to support young individuals as they transition from childhood to adulthood.

A resource kit has been developed to provide guidance for designing and implementing the Youth Resilience Programme as well as broader youth programming that aims at promoting positive coping and resilience of young persons:

  • The Theory and Programmatic Guide provides an overview of key concepts and the theoretical background of the Youth Resilience Programme. It reviews approaches and methodologies for implementing the programme, including systematic guidance on the participatory process of designing the series of thematic workshops. It also suggests ways of promoting sustainability and community involvement. The guide helps facilitators to establish a fun, safe and inclusive environment that is conducive for building youth resilience and provides guidance in dealing with difficult emotions, which may arise in the course of a workshop.
  • Facilitator’s handbook 1: Life Skills Workshops for Youth presents the various types of workshops included in the programme. The Youth Resilience Programme has eight workshop themes, and four introductory and two closing workshops. Each theme comprises between two to five thematic workshops focused on various life skills linked to personal and social skills that the facilitator and participants can choose to address in depth. This handbook has detailed instructions for facilitators for each workshop, including the objective of the session, the timing for activities and the materials required.
  • Facilitator’s handbook 2: Parents and Caregivers Meetings is an essential component of the Youth Resilience Programme. This handbook features seven meetings for parents and caregivers of young people. The meetings aim to inform parents and caregivers about the Youth Resilience Programme, provide them with regular updates on the topics that their children are tackling and any issues that arise during the workshops. The meetings also aim to enhance parents’ and caregivers’ understanding and skills to support their children’s wellbeing and protection. This handbook can be used both for Children’s and Youth Resilience Programmes (but, please note that some adaptation will be needed depending on the age group) or as a stand-alone tool, for example, for training foster parents or for awareness-raising sessions for parents and caregivers.

A guidance note has been developed to summarise some of the key aspects of the Youth Resilience Programme (objectives, target group and when to implement/not implement the tool). This note is helpful for staff and partners to quickly become more familiar with the programme.  

A questionnaire has also been designed to help implementing the Youth Resilience Programme with a clear vision of how and when it will be used, to contribute to the desired changes for adolescents and youth. All staff and partners who are interested in implementing the programme should use this questionnaire to assess their ‘readiness’ and identify what preparatory actions are necessary.

Save the Children acknowledges the tremendous assistance received in developing, testing and reviewing this programme, including from youth themselves in Denmark, South Sudan, Iraq, Yemen and Jordan. We hope it will be a useful resource in strengthening youth wellbeing and resilience worldwide, to create lasting change and improve the lives of children, youth and their parents and caregivers.

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