Monday, February 16, 2009

Empowerment through Arts and Sports

My work, thus far, in St. Lucia has focused around 3 things.  

1)  I have been working with a girl's empowerment group called "Girl's Circle" that has been beneficial not only to the girls, but to myself as well. 
2)  Strengthening and supporting the CARE school programs at Grow Well in the area of IT/Literacy, Arts and Crafts, "maths", and sports.
3)   Developing a plan and materializing it to create after school opportunities for the youth of Gros Islet in the area of arts, sports, and life skills.  

The volunteering work that I have done with CARE has been the most interesting, of yet.  The trainees there (that is what we call the students because it is more of a training program than a school), are bright and unique individuals.  Last Friday we had a sports meet for Track and Field.  We only had enough time to train for a couple of weeks prior to the event due to other constraints, but we managed to still take part in the event.  Unfortunately, only three of the trainees could participate that day.   I have a feeling that a few of the others were nervous or whatnot.  Anyhow, the three that did participate did well, and I am proud of them.  

Ed running in the 200 m.
Dwayne making good headway in front of the Odsan athlete on the 200m.
Cheerleaders excited for the races!
The whole group of athletes at the parade before.

My favorite little cheerleader!  She was rooting for us all!

A few weeks prior to the sports meet, we also took part in an annual spelling bee.  We took fourth place, but the trainees that participated did very well.  There were multiple rounds and most of the words were spelled accurately.  

Stephanie thinking about a word really hard.
The annual spelling bee contestants.  

Girl's Circle has been a good time as well.  The girls are working on becoming more responsible, more well-rounded, and more self-confident.  In the last session, we focused on creativity in life to express yourself.  We used play-dough that I made from scratch, painted and created collages from brought materials.  The girls all had a great time, and they really made things that were nice to look at.  

Pictures that were painted by the girls.

Romana painting a pretty little picture.
Katie and Enah working with play dough to create a butterfly through team work skills.

Empowering youth through the avenue of sports and arts may not be as straight forward as say a self-confidence seminar, however, arts and sports can help the individual express themselves in ways that words sometimes cannot.  Youth can learn that they are unique, that they have talent and skills, that they too can create something that is all their own.  Involvement in arts and sports can lead to improvement in education and self-esteem levels.  Youth can find themselves proud of what they create or how they perform, and this can also improve their overall vision of themselves.