The aim of this workshop is provide hope and help participants see new possibilities and opportunities for dealing with difficult situations. The workshop does not aim to solve the participants’ crises or conflicts. Rather it encourages them to be aware of the various options for coping with emotional burnouts and high levels of stress.
The main message of this activity is that there will always be ways to cope with challenges, and create a better and more meaningful life. This activity can help participants address challenges and regain control over certain aspects of their life, so that they can follow their dreams.
Be aware that your role as a facilitator is very important. It can be difficult to create a space where people feel comfortable about sharing. Some may feel insecure when asked about their dreams and feelings and when they are challenged to explore new possibilities. Some may react with anger and a feeling of powerlessness because they find it difficult to see other possibilities.
As the facilitator you must be patient, friendly, and acknowledge every participant. You can do this by smiling at participants when they share, nod at them when they talk, and when they are finished, thank them for sharing.
Be mindful of your training on handling situations where participants become frustrated, angry and/ or sad.
1. Ask the participants to sit in a circle and introduce the aim of the activity by saying:
“Today we are going to talk about how we can create a better life for ourselves. Although we all meet obstacles in life and face difficult situations, there are always options to help us cope positively, such as family, sports, school, work, hobbies or other interests. We will work together to explore what opportunities we have.“
2. To make the participants feel relaxed, start by asking some personal questions that will give the participants the opportunity to get to know each other better. For example, ask questions such as:
• What is your favourite music? Why?
• What is your favourite movie? Why?
• Do you have a favourite actor/actress?
• Do you like sports? What kind? Do you have a favourite athlete?
• What is your favourite football team? Why?
3. When the participants seem to feel more relaxed, explain that you would like to know more about their daily lives and how they feel about life. Examples of questions you can use to guide the conversation are:
• What is a normal day like for you?
• What do you do for relaxation or fun?
• What activities do you enjoy doing alone/with friends/with family?
• What kind of activities make you feel good and give you energy?
• What is a good day for you?
• What is the one thing you enjoy doing the most?
• When do you feel safe?
• When do you feel connected with others?
• When and with who are you most comfortable?
4. Explain that you would also like to know what challenges they are facing. Some questions could be:
• What kinds of situations make you feel frustrated, angry or sad?
• What do you usually do when you feel like this?
• Who do you talk to when you feel this way?
5. Now focus on identifying new opportunities or ways of reacting to challenges. Some questions could be:
• What are your dreams for yourself and for this community?
• What would you like to change in these challenging situations?
• What can you do personally to make changes for yourself and for others?
• What is preventing you from making these changes? What obstacles are you meeting?
• What can be done to overcome these obstacles?
If the person who is sharing cannot see opportunities for making changes, invite other participants to reflect on the person’s challenges and come up with realistic suggestions for action.
6. Continue by saying:
“Talking about our challenges and exploring ways of making changes to deal with difficult situations is a good exercise, because it makes us realize that things are not always as hopeless as we may feel. By sharing challenges and ways of coping, we learn from each other and can often see new opportunities or possibilities that we had not thought of before."
7. Ask the participants to reflect on the discussion. You can use the following questions to guide the reflection:
• How was it for you to talk about these things?
• How did it make you feel?
• What are you going to do now to change your situation?
• How are you going to do it?
8. Now give each participant paper and a pen, and ask them to write down what they are going to change in their lives to help them cope better with challenges and reach their personal goals.
9. After a few minutes, go round the group and give every participant the opportunity to share what he or she has written.
10. End the activity by thanking the participants for their contributions, and reminding them to be positive and look for opportunities to improve their lives.