Youth First Kenya Program – Impact On Psychology

My scar

A boy by the name Dennis Mutwiri (Not Real name) narrated his story in confidence on how he has benefited from YFK Program.

“I am the first born in a family of 4 siblings. I have 3 sisters and live with my grandmother in Kiereni Village. My mother who was bringing us up as a single parent left us under the care of my grandmother who is old and poor and got married to a certain man in the neighborhood. I did not know what to do to help myself and my grandmother to make ends meet. I felt that my dreams were all shattered and I could not stand seeing my mother on daily basis passing by our home and could not understand her assumption that we are now strangers to her. I developed rage and bitterness and had contemplated on hurting my mother but my grandmother constantly cautioned me against it and told me it would lead me to jail.

YFK sessions have helped me to realize that I have character strengths that I can use to feel better about myself, to find benefits in my situation, and to set life goals. One of my goals is to work very hard and get good education and to support my grandmother”. Above is an example of one of the many success stories that we have received from the beneficiaries of Youth First Kenya (YFK) in Tharaka-Nithi county.

YFK a program hosted by BasicNeeds Kenya is a personal resilience and health Program aimed at equipping adolescents living in disadvantaged settings to thrive in amidst the challenges of life and still achieve their life goals. It is a school based- teacher facilitated program conducted on weekly basis for one hour.

The programme seeks to train teachers/facilitators on the key concepts of the program surrounding principles of positive psychology and attitudinal healing. Then they deliver the program to the pupils in class 7 and 8 which comprise of 23 sessions. The teacher using the facilitators manual lead the discussion and the pupils follow, participate and learn from each other.

YFK is a unique life-skills program in that the topics are tailored towards helping the pupils not
to focus on the daily challenges in the environment which are inevitable but to reflect, identify
and use their inner strengths present in everyone to make their lives happier and more satisfying and to improve their society.

Like in the story above, resilience training helped Mutwiri to focus on his inner strengths, to define himself, love and accept himself, and to find meaning in his life. One of the principles of Altitudinal healing suggests that we cannot always choose the events that happen but we can choose the attitudes with which we respond to these events. For Mutwiris case he could not change the situation, however bad it was, there is nothing he could do about it, therefore he chose to ignore what was going on in his environment and to focus on his life, his strengths, dreams and goals.

What would happen if He would have chosen to concentrate on the mother’s disappointment? It is evident, he would also have failed terribly. Mutwiri made a conscious choice to He made a conscious choice to ignore the circumstances that were surrounding him and to focus on what was working well for Him. He consequently applied another principle which proposes that instead of blaming others, we can take responsibility for own perceptions and feelings in response to the events in our lives. Instead of remaining angry/bitter, a feeling which would have affected his performance and life in general, Mutwiri chose to be peaceful regardless of what was happening in his external environment. I would assume that he perceived that even without the mother’s support, he would still achieve his goals and make his society better.