You can tell this is a blog by the way it is. Pretty neat!

All four of us have had the opportunity to work at the YWCA every morning this week and we absolutely love it! The YWCA has a special “HELP” program (Helping Early Leavers Program) for young women which helps them transition back into high school or into the working world. The girls do a half day of life skills, English and math and spend the rest of the day focusing on certain skills; cooking, sewing or cosmetology. 

 This week was all about girl power!! Jesse and Kathleen teach health to the girls each morning. Throughout the week we did a number of icebreaker games, and discussion based lessons around physical and sexual health. It’s a really fun dynamic having a classroom full of only girls. The girls take cooking classes in the afternoon and have been generous enough to show us some techniques and have even shared a few samples of their meals & desserts.

At the request of the principal, James and Mario have been helping the YWCA girls improve their Math and English skills. We have introduced many new concepts over the past week, and could not be more impressed with the work ethic and dedication that the girls are displaying. A number of students actually requested homework for extra practice… Imagine that! We can’t wait to see the progress that they make this week. Great job girls.

Mario and Kathleen have been lucky enough to spend their afternoons at Excelsior Secondary school. We have substituted in as the life skills teachers and talked about Peer Pressure, Sexual Health and Substance Use. The school is quite small with classes of around 12 students, which has created a great environment for our lessons! We have had lots of opportunities for class discussions and have been able to implement a variety of activities that everyone can partake in. We are also really excited to implement the peer leadership program next week at Excelsior! We will work with a group of students after school to understand the challenges they face during high school, promote team building and enhance their individual leadership skills. We are really looking forward to our week ahead!

James and Jesse spent their afternoons at Sadie Vernon Technical high school! It was a big change from the last two districts we’ve taught in since the school’s population is half the size!! There are only 6 different classes in the whole school- 2 first forms, 2 second forms, one third and one fourth! We’ve been taking full advantage of the small classroom sizes, which have been very conducive to stimulating discussion and getting to know the students better! Even though we’ve only taught there for one week we are already well on our way to forming close relationships with them! The students have been very energetic and engaged in our discussions about substance abuse, healthy sexual relationships and HIV/AIDS, and always have a lot to contribute! We finished off last weeks lessons with a trivia relay, which the students loved. It was cool to watch the students get involved in some friendly competition and be super excited to demonstrate what they had learned! We are looking forward to another awesome week back at Sadie Vernon!!

All four of us went to a Youth Action Movement (YAM) meeting last Friday at the Belize Family Life Association. We had the opportunity to meet and converse with a number of outstanding students, and enjoyed a presentation on blogging (neat, right!) delivered by a graduate student from the University of Arkansas. At the end of the meeting, we lead the student leaders through a team building exercise, which they enjoyed immensely. We wish YAM all the best in their future endeavours!

On Saturday morning, we decided to participate in the local Cancer Walk held by the Cancer Society of Belize. Ana, the owner of the Smokin Balam (our hostel) had invited us to join their family in their tradition of participating in the walk every year. We got up bright and early at 3AM to be bussed out to Ladyville, which was the starting point of the walk. The event was participated by thousands of young and old alike, marching back to the city led by a truck blasting some motivational music over the PA system. All in all, it was a fantastic and energetic way to start the day off and a great way to support and spread cancer awareness. We also ran into some members of the BFLA youth group members which was quite a treat! 

It is hard to believe that our initiative is about to come to an end this week. We have one more week working with the YWCA and each of our respective schools. We are very excited to finish off strong and close the ties on a good note. Check back in a week for our final post!

Si yoo lata!

The dream team.

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