As word spread about our Girl Uplift program, I was contacted by B.W. Harris school counselor Ms. Shirley Williams to do a workshop for a selected group of high-schoolers during the last week of my trip. Being completely exhausted at this point, I wasn’t sure if I could summon the energy to do one more. Also, our games were designed for younger children, and I wasn’t sure how quickly I could modify them to be suitable for an older group. However, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to test our methods with a very different group than previous workshops.
Quickly, I found someone who volunteered to help print the necessary materials for the workshop. I had to immediately customize our games and materials, which was only possible because the core set have been designed to work flexibly in a variety of situations – autistic children, marriage and pre-marriage relationships, addiction, incarcerated fathers, military PTSD situations, etc.
As a result, I designed a three-hour workshop for the afternoon of a school vacation day. The school counselor selected twenty-four random twelfth graders to participate in the workshop. I was curious to see how older students with a different mindset who are getting ready for the real world would respond. The workshop turned out to be very successful, as the older students were much quicker to pick up the concepts and objectives of the games.
We concentrated on hidden talent exposure, gender roles, conflict resolution, critical thinking, empathy training, teamwork, and social ethics (blending modern and traditional African). The students enjoyed the workshop and, like previous programs, asked for more workshops at their school to help uplift other students with this new mindset and toolset.
In contrast to the community program, high-school students were more receptive, were better able to follow instructions, and listened attentively and respectfully to the objectives and rules for the games. The games I selected and modified were appropriate for the age range of 16-18 and were structured to learn empathy, self-perception, tricky gender situations and problem-solving. They learned to be team players and in the process learned new communications skills (foundational to the Coflict approach are the works of Deborah Tannen and Steven Pinker, with some elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
These games helped the seniors to improve their modes of communication in resolving disagreements and finding common ground for discussion. They learned to negotiate, discuss positive criticism/constructive arguments, and maintain higher awareness of socio-cultural ethics and expectations. Due to the greatly expanded number of children who participated in our programs versus what was expected, we ran out of some important materials for the second and third workshops. Nonetheless, they were extremely successful for the short time I had in achieving core objectives. In spite of the short planning time and the advanced concepts presented to a typical group of high school students, we achieved a rather amazing result of a 4.71 score overall on a scale of 5. I was greatly surprised and pleased with the outcome.