I Am Strong!

During this past month, we gave way to our first motivational workshop titled “I am strong!” (or as our Spanish version reads: “Soy fuerte!”). This workshop was specially catered to one of our most vulnerable populations inside the children’s home: the teenagers soon to leave Puericultorio Perez Aranibar (also known as PPA). During the workshop many of the teenagers illustrated their strengths through a series of activities carried out by our wonderful volunteers.

The workshop was developed by our volunteer Kit Prendergast, who is a business coach and has worked with many business people in Reno, Nevada, doing these kinds of workshops at a more cooperate level. The idea came up during a meeting with the PPA’s social worker, Elizabeth Gozzer, Kit Pradergast, and her sister Diane Hawkins Clark (who are both social workers themselves). Kit and Diane wanted to get together with the PPA’s social workers to find out a little bit more about the lives of the children at PPA. Soon after, Kit was having a very enthusiastic conversation with Elizabeth… The idea of the motivational workshop started to give way.

It wasn’t long after when Kit, Diane, and Kate Welsh, another PPA Global Volunteer, started talking about how this workshop could happen sometime next week. We all sat together during lunch and decided who would be in charge of what. So here’s how it happened: Kit would be in charge of developing the whole workshop layout and content, Diane and Kate would be the assistants and responsible for taking pictures and providing materials to the teenages, and I would be in charge of translating everything for Kit.

The following week, we had everything set to start our workshop. Elizabeth was excited but at the same time doubtful… She’s worked with teenagers and knows how hard they are to motivate. Then, in addition, to convince them to participate in anything “inconvenient” to them is also challenging. (We all know how teenagers can be!) To our surprise, especially Elizabeth’s, all the teenage boys came and participated quite enthusiastically. They were engaged in such a way that Elizabeth had never even seen before. We were all very excited about the feedback we received from the children. Not only were they participating and asking questions, but they were specifically asking us when they would have a second workshop.

During the session, the teenagers found out what their strengths were, and how to use these strengths in their lives after PPA. In our culture, once you turn 18, you must leave home and start a life of your own, sometimes with no help from relatives. Once the teens realized their strength, they also realized that if they use their strength wisely, they will be able to achieve their dreams… Dreams like becoming a professional soccer player, as many said, or engineers, or lawyers, or singers, or whatever they wish to become!

I must say that none of this could have been possible if it weren’t for our wonderful volunteers Kit Prendergast, Diane Hawkins-Clark, and Kate Welsh, as well as the support from social worker Elizabeth Gozzer’s, and brother Guillermo Maylin. Thanks to all these people this wonderful workshop was carried out in the hopes that we can provide, the soon to leave teenagers, with all the tools possible to have a successful life after PPA.


Kate, Diane, Maru, Kit, and the teenage boys after the first workshop was over.

Photos of the workshop:

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