Who We Are:
Our Peer Mentor group in Caerphilly meets every Thursday at 5:30. We have been running this group since August 2019. As the facilitator of this group, I have found it so admiring to see the young people grow in themselves each week, letting all the wonderful aspects of their personalities shine. Each individual in the group has shown such strength and bravery throughout our experience together, sharing the intricate details of their personal lives and stories to help and support each other. The power of peer support is unexplainable when you see people in the group becoming a little more comfortable sharing each week, and the moment when they realise they are not alone, there are people who are similar to them and have experienced and felt the same things they do. To see the wonderful sparkle of each person come out a little more in every session, opening up discussions and supporting their peers through the good, the hard, and the ugly. This group of young people are incredibly admirable and I will always be in awe of their creativity, openness and bravery.
When thinking about what I could write to explain all of the work we have done over the past year, it seemed best to break things down into our favourite, most effective, and fun sessions. Firstly, a challenging but rewarding activity we set out to do a few months back was a positive thinking challenge.
For this session we set each other a weekly task of having to write every day:
- One thing that went well today.
- One thing that I am proud of today.
- One thing that I love about myself today.
On paper, this feels easy to look at and you’d imagine it wouldn’t be that much of a challenge. However, having to write different answers each day to these statements is incredibly hard. When you think about your average week, 7/7 days are usually not all sunshine and flowers! In reality, things go wrong, we have good days and we have bad days, it’s the bad days that make it very hard to write about how much you love yourself or things that have gone well. Especially when in your life, things might not be going well at that time. The group found this task understandably hard, but they completed it despite this. When we came to feedback a week later it was as expected – difficult. The power of this however, led to us all picking the hardest day and reading out what we had managed to put down for the statements. This moved to everyone talking about the details of that day and what led them to writing the particular statement. I feel this session brought the group closer together and helped them realise that there are still aspects of positivity even in the darkest of days, and that this helps the darkness lift a little bit of light.
HOW TO/GET INVOLVED!
This activity is personal to you, you can choose to do it with your friends/family or by yourself. All you need is a few sheets of paper. On these sheets, write down the days from Monday-Sunday. Under each day write the following statements:
- One thing that went well today…
- One thing that I am proud of today…
- One thing that I love about myself today…
If you are feeling brave you can add more statements such as:
- Today I had fun when…
- I helped someone today when…
- A nice thing someone did for me today is…
- Today I am thankful for…
- Today was interesting because…
Once you have this all set up you are ready to go!! Challenge yourself to complete these statements each day for a week and see how your mood changes when you are filling them in. Remember, try to find the positives in the worst of days!
Another session which was incredibly emotional but so touching was our anonymous thoughts activity. In this session we ask our group to be brave! Each member of the group wrote down a negative thought that they had experienced in the past week. They then crumpled this up and threw it in the middle of the table. I then read these out to the group, not knowing who’s thought it was and we as a group discussed the thought and talked about how we would support someone who had this thought and how we could help turn this thought into a positive one. The impact was inspiring, I sat back and let the magic happen, with each thought that was read out, the compassion in the young people of the group was outstanding. They rationally talked about how they understood how this person was feeling and stated positive statements around this thought to try and turn it as positive as possible. This was hands down one of my favourite sessions we’ve ever had as a group.
HOW TO/GET INVOLVED!
To do this with friends or family:
- Write down a negative thought on a piece of paper and ask them all to do the same.
- Fold them up and put them in a bowl in the middle of the table.
- Have one person who is not included in the activity to read out each thought.
- With each thought that is read out, go around the circle and try to turn it into a positive thought.
For example: “I am not good enough and will not get into university”, this thought could be changed to “I am good enough for myself, I value myself and all that I do. I will try my best and do as good as I can to be a step closer to my end goal.”.
To do this alone:
- Write down on a sheet of paper 4 negative thoughts that you have had in the past 2 weeks.
- Try and write out evidence for and against this negative thought next to each thought.
- Now try and turn the negative thought into a positive thought.
“I am not good enough and will not get into university”
- I am struggling to revise as I am stressed.
- I found my coursework really challenging and don’t think I did well.
- I have my offers for University.
- I am trying my best and working hard.
- Teachers are telling me that I am on target and doing well.
New Positive Thought:
“I am good enough for myself, I value myself and all that I do. I will try my best and do as good as I can to be a step closer to my end goal”.
Connecting with the Community!
Finally, a fun uplifting session we created as a group to spread some cheer within our community and fill our minds with gratitude. We made positivity cards and wrote uplifting messages and quotes inside the cards. Then we went walking around the local town and handed them to people walking and cashiers in shops etc. The group were nervous about approaching people for this, but once they handed out the first letter they were giggling and enjoying the buzz of helping others. This is a really fun and exciting way to feel good about helping people as well as having fun and enjoying the local community.
HOW TO/GET INVOLVED!
This is a simple and easy activity to do by yourself, in school, or with your friends/family.
Firstly all you will need is a pen and paper! Draw, paint or design your card to however you want it to be.
Tips: We used our favourite positive quotes or uplifting messages on the front.
Inside the card: Write a little message to a stranger, for example, one that we used was “Just a little reminder that you are amazing, beautiful, successful and loved by so many. Keep smiling”.
You can choose to sign your name or keep it anonymous. Then all you need to do is post them!! You can either give them to loved ones, or you can go on a nice walk and post them through people’s letterboxes.
I hope you get involved and find these skills helpful, please send us through your thoughts/feelings if you complete the challenges on our social media platforms