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A National CARES Mentoring Movement Initiative
HEALING WHAT’S HURTING BLACK AMERICA
FORWARD
A
NEW
WAY
Wellness Mentoring Circles for Young People
THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
HEALING WHAT’S HURTING BLACK AMERICA
FORWARD
A
NEW
WAY
Wellness Mentoring Circles for Young People
THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
The activities and framework for engaging young people that ll these pages
are part of The Rising: Elevating Education, Expectations and Self-Esteem and are
designed to shift consciousness and vision. They were created with youth de-
velopment specialists, students, educators, mental health professionals and
other subject-matter experts who are devoted to ensuring and advancing
Black children. The pilot is presently in place at three greatly under-resourced
schools: John M. Harlan Community Academy High School on the South Side
of Chicago and Seagull Alternative High School and Whiddon-Rogers Educa-
tion Center, two alternative schools on adjacent campuses in Fort Lauderdale,
Florida. This guide, and the programming for which it was created, is sup-
ported by generous grants from the Campaign for Black Male Achievement,
a project of the Open Society Foundations, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
FORWARD
A
NEW
WAY
HEALING WHAT’S HURTING BLACK AMERICA
Wellness Mentoring Circles for Young People
THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
© 2013 by The National CARES Mentoring Movement, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ADINKRA SYMBOLS are visual representations of
important concepts. Originally created by the Akan of Ghana
and the Gyaman of Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, they convey
traditional wisdom and cultural mores and are often
linked to folktales. They also serve a decorative function.
Symbols courtesy of ADINKRA.ORG
On many pages in this manual you will see an Adinkra symbol accompanied by a line
of type. Example: DWENNIMMENWTHE SYMBOL OF HUMILITY AND STRENGTH. The rst
word is the name of the Adinkra symbol and the words after the star are the meaning.
Editor
Senior Training Designer
Training Consultants
Creative Director
Cover Artist
Copy Editor
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
asha bandele
Dereca Blackmon
Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vanzant
Dr. Iva Carruthers
Jimmie Briggs
LaVon Leak
Keba Konte
Nicole Saunders
SUSAN L. TAYLOR
FORWARD
A
NEW
WAY
HEALING WHAT’S HURTING BLACK AMERICA
Wellness Mentoring Circles for Young People
THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
CONTENTS
WHO WE ARE
HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
A NEW WAY FORWARD:
HEALING WHAT’S HURTING
BLACK AMERICA
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES:
THEIR HISTORY AND PURPOSE
A VISION FOR HEALING OUR YOUNG
ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL WELLNESS
MENTORING CIRCLE
YOUNG PEOPLE’S WELLNESS MENTORING
CIRCLE COVENANTS
THE OPENING SESSIONS
MENTORING
HERITAGE
SPIRITUALITY
STRESS
WELLNESS
RELATIONSHIPS
MEDIA WATCH
CREATIVITY
PROSPERITY
COMMUNITY
FORWARD
A
NEW
WAY
HEALING WHAT’S HURTING BLACK AMERICA
Wellness Mentoring Circles for Young People
THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
T
he National CARES Mentoring Movement is a community-led transformation movement dedi-
cated to alleviating intergenerational poverty among African Americans. It oers Black chil-
dren in low-income families and unstable communities the social, emotional and academic
supports they need to unleash their potential and graduate from high school prepared to
succeed in college or vocational-training programs and 21st-century careers. We employ two prima-
ry strategies in our work: (1) we recruit, train and deploy caring men and women to youth-serving
organizations and schools desperate for Black volunteers to serve as mentors, reading buddies, role
models and inspirers; and (2) in collaboration with our community-devoted partners, National CARES
develops culturally rich, curriculum-based group mentoring initiatives designed to obliterate the crisis
under-resourced Black children are facing and bolster the adults who mentor, teach and parent them.
Founded in 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as Essence CARES, National CARES is commit-
ted to ending in the now time the over-incarceration of our young and other painful predictables
for Black children trapped in poverty, under-resourced schools and troubled communities. Before
we began this work, there was no national infrastructure in place within the Black community to
engage our desperately needed men and women who would volunteer to help secure our children
by mentoring them. Operating in nearly 60 U.S. cities and led by dedicated community leaders—
themselves volunteers—National CARES is determined to ensure that all Black children needing
guidance and role models are surrounded by a circle of caring adults who are committed to giving
an hour or two a week of their time as mentors.
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
WHO WE ARE
HYE WON HYEWTHE SYMBOL OF IMPERISHABILITY AND ENDURANCE; THAT WHICH DOES NOT BURN
HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
By asha bandele
T
hank you for answering our call. Thank you for creating space in your heart, spirit and sched-
ule to help undergird our young, so many of whom are struggling along the margins in
stressed families and unstable communities that are unable to protect and guide them. The
Rising: Elevating Expectations, Education and Self-Esteem is a national demonstration by CARES
of what is possible when caring, committed adults knit ourselves together in support of our children.
We maintain, and history bears out, that even the most challenged young lives can be transformed.
Becoming part of our innovative group mentoring initiative means that you are becoming part of
The Beloved Community, the belief forwarded by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that all of us,
including “the least of these, can and should share in the wealth of the earth.
The original version of this guide is used to facilitate Wellness Mentoring Circles (WMCs or Circles)
for adults across the country. As with this iteration, it is based on the CARES overarching philosophy
outlined in our manual A New Way Forward: Healing What’s Hurting Black America. A New Way Forward
captured the wisdom of our Braintrust, which consists of more than 60 of the nest minds in the
elds of medicine, advocacy, the arts, wellness, economics, history, spirituality and the media. Our
Braintrust demonstrated that in order to heal our children, we must rst heal ourselves and, to that
end, identied 10 distinct areas of focus that serve as the basis for the manual’s chapters. Each sec-
tion of this guide contains uniquely developed, audience-appropriate activities that correspond to
those chapters. Before you begin facilitating or mentoring within each WMC, we ask that you read
and absorb the corresponding chapter in the manual. This will ensure your understanding of what
our Braintrust oered and, accordingly, why the curriculum contained here was developed as it was.
In preparation for each session, please read the corresponding chapter in the manual and, if appro-
priate and needed, reread relevant sections. The activities we have included are intended to open
students’ hearts to deep caring about themselves and others, help them understand and value their
rich heritage and develop critical-thinking skills. Wellness Mentoring Circles oer young people a
safe place for introspection and sharing and the inspiration and tools needed for transformation and
successful living.
Our selection of the schools we are working in was based on the support of engaged local CARES
Aliate leaders, principals and sta willing to work with us and the challenges the students are fac-
ing. We recognized an opportunity to demonstrate the power of collective investment across the
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
city and nation—and an opportunity to provide programming that will reverse the trend toward
death and mass incarceration of our young people.
In adapting this work for young people, we created a multitiered process. Students will be seated in
single-gender Circles comprised of about six participants to allow for the greatest amount of safety
in speaking their truths. Each Circle will benet from your facilitation as caring leaders and mentors
trained to reinforce the skills learned in the Circle. The Circles you will be working with will meet in
the classroom for a period of 50 minutes once per week. Mentors will also provide their personal per-
spective, which will resonate with the young people in a variety of ways. It is important for you to see
the Circles as part of a larger program that includes all-school assemblies, the themes of which will
set the tone for the work in the Circles that month. While your commitment and support are central
to helping the students transform their thinking and believe deeply in their brilliance and capacity,
there will be an extensive support network in the community sustaining the youngsters even beyond
the walls of the classroom.
The Rising emerged from the crises we were alerted to in two Fort Lauderdale alternative schools—
Seagull, which has 300 teen mothers, and Whiddon-Rogers, which has 1,400 students, most of them
males who have been in juvenile detention. In 2011, without funding, the remarkable women and
men of South Florida CARES began oering consciousness-changing group mentoring support to
students at both schools. The Rising at Chicagos Harlan High was rst believed in and generously
supported by the Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement. Shawn Dove,
the campaigns director, said never before had he seen a school-wide eort whose goal it was to
speak to and elevate the whole person. To that extent, our goal is to support the academic growth
of Harlans nearly 1,000 students, almost half of whom are our boys; the program is also designed to
undergird students spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. Additional investment by the W.K. Kel-
logg Foundation in our Rising programs has made funding available to South Florida CARES for the
rst time. With added local support from Opportunities Industrialization Center, our leaders in South
Florida are expanding and changing lives in nine challenged schools.
For too long, we have asked young people to enter our school grounds focused, even though just
outside the doors the streets have become killing elds. We have wanted them alert when many
are hungry, or we have fed them, even in schools, food that dulled the mind. We have wanted them
to excel even as the investment in education is nowhere near our investment in incarceration. The
Rising is being piloted to override these challenges.
HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
A Message from Our Founder and CEO, Susan L. Taylor
T
his is about our collective humanity and soul. This is about the big business of Black America.
About knitting ourselves together with love, honoring our heritage, ensuring high-quality edu-
cation for our children and encouraging African American achievement and entrepreneurship.
This is the only way to peace, power and prosperity for Black communities and the nation.
Thank you and bless you for stepping forward, for your interest in giving the gift of promise to
our children. The transformational pilot that you are helping to build will be rened and rep-
licated throughout the nation to ensure millions of fragile young lives. Although the schools we
are working in today are greatly under-resourced and, consequently, challenged institutions, they
are fortunate to have powerful leaders who are already making great improvements. The Rising is
designed to support visionary principals who simply need greater resources and support to make
their schools top-tier learning environments. This is what all children deserve—and what Black
children must have in order to grow into self-sucient, caring and condent adults and put an
end to intergenerational poverty. Blessings will pour into your life for embarking on this journey.
A New Way Forward: Healing What’s Hurting Black America is a community transformational
pilot that was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, U.S. Department of Education and Fannie
Mae and is the guiding framework for all CARES programs. It was initially created as a mentor
A NEW WAY FORWARD: HEALING
WHAT’S HURTING BLACK AMERICA
“Children have never been very good at listening to elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
James Baldwin
PHOTO: DWIGHTCARTER.COM
training manual to instill in us adults the principles and practices that lead to personal wellness,
inner peace, prosperity and mutual love. A meticulous and comprehensive racial healing curricu-
lum, it was developed by a Braintrust of more than 60 of the nest minds in the academic, well-
ness and advocacy elds. It is designed to heal the incalculable damage done to the psyche and
soul of African Americans over the centuries of enslavement, racial hatred and institutionalized
Jim Crow practices. Though we have withstood and somehow survived these horrors, the wounds
continue to live within us. They’ve been passed down through the generations but are rarely dis-
cussed or even acknowledged. The A New Way Forward manual was brought to life in 2010 as a
training launched in Oakland and led by our Oakland Bay Area CARES aliate. Our work is guid-
ed by a philosophy that our Braintrust elder Harry Belafonte so aptly put into words when he said,
“We will never be able to x what most aects our children until we x what most aects us.”
The National CARES Mentoring Movement is dedicated to securing and advancing our young by
opening paths to healing, self-love and total well-being—not just for our children, but also for the
parents, teachers and mentors who care for them. Our calling and our vision are tremendous, and as
we link arms and aims with you and succeed the benets to our children and community, along with
your rewards, will prove immeasurable.
Wellness Mentoring Circles: Their History and Purpose
Circles are single-gender intimate gatherings led by you—trained facilitators and a support team of
mentors—that oer consistency and a safe place for sharing, understanding and resolution. The mod-
el oers participants methods to help manage life’s stressors and identify and deconstruct emotional
blocks that lead to self-wounding choices. The healing Circles are culture-comfortable, with shared
language, customs, spiritual beliefs, histories and humor facilitating easy communication and trust.
Please begin this journey with us by taking the time to read the manual A New Way Forward: Healing
What’s Hurting Black America, so you will become deeply familiar with its restorative principles and
practices. The content provides urgent, life-changing, life-saving information to strengthen those of
us who want to let go of our fears, heal any wounds to our psyche and soul and work in unity with
other beautiful Black people to secure our children and repair the village.
Immediately following the publication of the manual, A New Way Forward pilot trainings were
launched in Oakland, a city that a large number of African American activists call home. The trainings
and original incarnation of the facilitator’s guide were designed for use with adults. They provided
the community of caring men and women—the high and the humble who gathered—with strat-
egies for de-stressing, fortifying wellness and building healthy relationships and intergenerational
wealth, so that from a place of peace and wholeness we would commit to arming and advancing
our challenged young.
We learned from the 900-plus men and women who participated in the Oakland trainings that stress
and feelings of overwhelm were the forces diverting their energy away from critically needed en-
gagement in the lives of our struggling children and community. And our evaluators, led by Dr. Linda
James Meyers, a professor at Ohio State University, found that more than any other element of the
weekend-long trainings, it was the single-gender Circles that participants experienced as most help-
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
A Message from Our Founder and CEO, Susan L. Taylor
A Message from Our Founder and CEO, Susan L. Taylor
ful and needed. In those safe spaces, we adult mentors shared our challenges and triumphs, sup-
ported one another and built trust and solidarity as we learned to manage life’s complexities and
undergird our children. Given the strategies and opportunity to utilize our innate ability to solve any
personal challenge—no matter how painful or shameful it may be—we develop the patience and
compassion that fosters healing, forgiveness and forward movement in others as well.
The sessions were so popular that, after the launch weekend and follow-up trainings, Wellness Men-
toring Circles were born in 2011 and are ongoing for mentors in Oakland and now 12 other cities.
Many CARES Aliate leaders throughout the nation are excited to launch Wellness Mentoring Circles
in their communities. We only need to raise funds to expand this restorative work. Through inter-
active activities and the strategic use of videos, critical readings and lectures, as well as the time-
tested healing protocol of just listening with an open heart, Circles have successfully supported and
retained both women and men whose reach has extended far beyond their apparent numbers. In
Oakland, for example, working with fewer than 20 mostly male CARES-recruited mentors, our part-
ner Peacemakers Inc., led by Hank Roberts, successfully changed the academic and social culture of
Castlemont High School. It was testimonies like Hank’s—and the repeated asks of young people to
be heard—that encouraged us to create a curriculum that spoke directly to our children, some of
whom are managing stressors that would be daunting to any adult.
For The Rising program in schools, which we will replicate throughout the nation once it is rened and
proven eective, our curriculum writers and trainers have incorporated the empowering elements of
A New Way Forward into the Wellness Mentoring Circles designed for youngsters. You are helping to
write a new history for our children and community. For that, our gratitude to you is without bounds.
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
ADINKRAHENEiTHE SYMBOL FOR STRENGTH OF PURPOSE
CHIEF OF ADINKRA SYMBOLS
A
s a young child growing up in Detroit, my family, like so many others, was profoundly
aected by a culture of poverty, addiction and violence. Like many of my peers, my life
experiences might have continued to be punctuated by these painful and ultimately
deleterious factors. But I had a saving grace in the spirit and love of countless family
members, teachers and community leaders who believed in me and showed me the way to the
road less traveled.
They were, in every way, mentors to me, and they allowed me to emerge from my environment
strengthened rather than broken. For nearly 20 years, I have developed workshops, programs and
organizations that serve as powerful agents of change in the lives of our children. Along the way, I
have been deeply impacted by the passion, creativity and dedication of a growing cadre of leaders
throughout the nation who are dedicated to reclaiming our young. The guide you are holding is
borne of years of planning, visioning, evaluating and eld testing by some of the brightest minds in
our community. But through it all, able brothers and sisters like you are the ones we imagined step-
ping forward, the ones whose hearts and souls we hoped would be dedicated to standing in the gap
for our children. You are the ones needed to answer the call to heal the wounded children of our
village and help secure the bright future of the next generation.
Finally, at National CARES we believe that group mentoring is the most eective and powerful way
to secure the multitudes of our children and reverse the crippling eects of centuries of discrimina-
tion and internalized oppression. It is a creative way of reaching the many, rather than the few, and
more, it demonstrates to our young that they are part of something bigger than themselves. Just as
churches or sports teams shift the way whole groups think, believe and behave, so too does group
mentoring. As students interact in positive and productive ways, remarkable things begin to occur
between them and the adults who mentor them. They learn to trust one another, inspire one another
and draw upon the wisdom innate in every soul. With mutual love and respect rising, the often hos-
tile world surrounding Black children loses its power and The Beloved Community grows.
Think of this guide as a road map for you and your students.
A VISION FOR HEALING
OUR YOUNG
By Dereca Blackmon
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
Wellness Mentoring Circles are single-gender gatherings and should be seen and experienced as
the safe harbor young people are longing for. They must be places absent of harsh judgment
and blame; places that oer listening hearts, guidance and support. Here are ve signs that your
Circle is spinning the way it should be.
1
YOUNG PEOPLE ARE TALKING. Too often as adults we are eager to share our wisdom and
advice with young people without giving them opportunities to discover their own insights
and develop their critical-thinking skills. We have been entrenched in a didactic model of
education where the adult is the teacher and the students are learners. In the Circles, we practice an
integrated model of education where we are all teachers and learners. Give young people space to
surprise you and they usually will.
2
YOUNG PEOPLE ARE CELEBRATED. While there are many valid critiques of youth culture, we
should approach our children as assets to our communities, rather than as problems. Focus-
ing on generational dierences sends subtle signals to young people that they are unt or
unwell. Instead, our role is to teach critical thinking skills that invite youngsters to harness their bril-
liance and intellect in service to themselves and their communities.
3
YOUNG PEOPLE ARE ENGAGED. Circle facilitators use a variety of teaching modalities to engage
dierent learning styles. Whether it’s lm clips, interactive games or writing poetry and per-
sonal essays, the measure of our success is in our ability to engage the students we are trying to
reach. Be exible with your agenda. If something is not working be prepared to change course.
4
YOUNG PEOPLE FEEL SAFE. Tragically, safety is not something our children take for granted.
Verbal and physical violence have become far too commonplace in our schools, homes and
communities. As facilitators and mentors, we model new ways of being together. Take time
to establish and regularly review group agreements. Explain and use creative examples to demon-
strate why mutual respect is key to joy and success. The more patiently and thoughtfully guidelines
on how you will be together are established, the fewer disruptions there will be. Most important is
that we adults model the respectful behaviors that are a part of our tradition and that we want our
children to witness and adopt. Young people know when the rules are being enforced unfairly, so it’s
critical to not show any favoritism, participate in put-downs or shaming or become aggressive and
threatening if any problems do arise. Every challenge can be seen and worked with as a teachable
moment. This is the import of having supportive wellness professionals facilitating Circles in addition to
caring men and women mentors.
ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLE
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
5
YOUNG PEOPLE ARE BEING THEMSELVES. Remember what it was like when you were a teen-
ager? Some adults made you feel loved and supported; some made you feel small. Rather
than admonishing young people for behavior that is likely developmentally appropriate,
see how you might integrate youthful exuberance into the day’s lesson. Ask questions to engage
students who are distracted or disruptive. Find a helping job for someone who is craving extra at-
tention. Call on someone who seems accustomed to being ignored. Successful youth engagement
takes time, but the trust you build with your Circle will pay o enormously in its long-term success.
ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLE
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
YOUNG PEOPLE’S
WELLNESS MENTORING
CIRCLE COVENANTS
C
ircle covenants, or community agreements, are formed by simply asking students to
answer the following question: What are the values that should consistently ground our
interactions with one another?” The WMCs are where students will develop new ways
of being with themselves and interacting with others. It is where they will discover our
inescapable connectedness, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. prescribed. Being a member of a
Circle is an opportunity to create a microcosm of the kind of world we would like to live in.
Its important to arrive at the rst meeting with some time-tested agreements in place. CARES
suggests starting with the ones below. As you meet and get to connect with one another, you,
the students and other adult leaders may add agreements that make sense for your Circle. Put the
agreements on paper and review them aloud. Answer any questions about them and, in the spirit of
collaboration and community building, encourage input from students, mentors and the teacher if
he/she is in the room.
1. COMMITTED LISTENING – Ask students to be fully available to support each other by putting
away distractions such as cell phones. Keep in mind, however, that young people are highly ac-
customed to multitasking, and research shows that some students are more engaged when their
hands are busy. Provide colored pencils or markers for those who need kinetic stimulation to
activate their learning. And utilize the eective tool of the Ago / Ame call and response from the
Twi language of West Africa. When your hand is raised and you say Ago, it means “May I have your
attention?” Students answer by saying Ame, or You have my attention, and raise their hands as
a signal and agreement to become silent immediately and stop all activity. This is best used when
simply asking for young peoples attention is not enough to quiet a room.
2. NO PUT-DOWNS – Make a conscious eort to erase the common school culture of bullying and
the intimidation of those who speak out or are dierent. Take time to demonstrate why diverse
opinions are valuable. Ensure that the adults in the room never resort to put-downs when enforcing
agreements.
3. USE “I” STATEMENTS – Remind students of the importance of not blaming or demeaning others
and speaking in the rst person (e.g., “I think... “I see it this way... or “I believe it would work better
if...”), especially when they disagree with someone or about an activity.
4. STEP UP, STEP BACK – Invite students to pay attention to their participation in the Circle. Encour-
age those who speak less by asking, “Can I hear from someone who hasn’t spoken yet?”
5. RIGHT TO PASS – No one should be forced to participate. We are teaching young people to be
empowered, independent thinkers and that their “No” is just as important as their “Yes. Facilitators
and mentors may be unaware of the issues many students are contending with on any given day.
If you have any concerns about a student’s coping ability, speak with the youngster privately about
his participation and discuss with your lead trainer how we can oer additional support options
and services to the student and perhaps his/her family as well. There are many available support
services that people in communities are simply not aware of.
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
6. CONFIDENTIALITY – Condentiality is essential to creating a safe space in which students can
speak candidly. Invite students to share a time when their condence was violated and ask them
to consider the impact it had on them. Remind them that condentiality includes not discussing
anyones sharing—even with the speaker—outside of Circle time unless the speaker brings up the
topic. Let the youngsters know that just because a person shared that he or she has suered abuse
does not give them permission to bring it up at lunch or elsewhere.
7. ESTABLISH CONSEQUENCES – Agreements need consequences. Teens are developmentally at
a stage where testing boundaries is a natural part of their process. Agree beforehand what the
consequences are for breaking these covenants and it will be easier to enforce them when the need
arises. A writing assignment about trust is a good way to make a person more thoughtful. Try not to
exclude anyone from participating in this healing work, and emphasize the importance of under-
standing and forgiveness.
YOUNG PEOPLE’S WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLE COVENANTS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
“Let the Circle be Unbroken…Inspirational hymn
Y
our first Circle session establishes the tone for your time together with the young people
in your community. After these rst two weeks, if you haven’t already, please be sure to
read the chapters in the manual that correspond to the chapters in this guide. Chapters
are not sequenced in the manual as they are here, but they lay out the framework we
used to develop Circle activities.
By bringing a sense of reverence to your opening ritual you will convey the signicance of the jour-
ney and give the students in your Circle the feelings of belonging and community they are yearn-
ing for. It is here that you should establish the guiding principles of the Circle and create the initial
sense of safety and welcome. This is where you begin to get buy-in from students who may be
uncomfortable with—and unaccustomed to—talking about themselves, their challenges and what
they truly feel or dream. Share yourself during this opening session. Model the openness and vul-
nerability we are asking of students and explain our interdependence as people and as a commu-
nity. Explain why the saying “I am because you are has profound meaning in a world that isolates us
through false images, video games and virtual interactions that are no substitute for truly engaging
and being with one another.
The facilitator and mentors should introduce themselves and The Rising pilot. Remember, too, that
young people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Model committed listening.
Young people are often talked about but rarely spoken with, gently and lovingly. This process will
provide many opportunities for you to share your knowledge and leadership abilities, but today is
about establishing a safe space where our young people know they will be respected, listened to
and cared for by a strong circle of adults who are committed to their success.
AGENDA
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONSThe facilitator should take the lead in welcoming everyone,
introducing herself/himself and thanking all for joining the Circle. Share why you were called to
become a WMC facilitator and ask each mentor to do the same about his or her commitment to
volunteering. Invite students to quickly introduce themselves and explain the purpose of the WMC
and how the Circle will function.
FIRST ACTIVITY
SECOND ACTIVITY
CLOSE
THE OPENING SESSIONS
DWENNIMMENWTHE SYMBOL OF HUMILITY AND STRENGTH
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
WEEK ONE: FIRST ACTIVITY
Name of Activity: Establishing Circle/Group Covenants
Materials Needed: A white board and marker,
the Circle Agreements handout and chairs arranged in
several small single-gender circles
Length of Activity: 20 minutes
Description of Activity: In order for the groups to
work well, it is important that people feel comfortable with
one another and feel free to share themselves without fear
of being disrespected or embarrassed. To that end, please
start by establishing agreements—a group covenant—that
guide how everyone will interact and be treated. We’ve
included a list of basic covenants or agreements as a starting point, but remain receptive to other
ideas the students may oer that will keep them feeling safe and open. (Please report any additions
to your Rising leader so we can document it for our pilot and replication in other cities.) Everyone
present, including adults, should sign the agreements, as should any students or mentors who join
at another time. The facilitator should make it a practice to ask before each session if anyone pres-
ent has not seen and signed a covenant.
Explain the importance of creating a Circle based on trust and respect. A mentor should vol-
unteer to be the note taker and write any suggestions that arise on the board. Start the discussion
by sharing your own experiences in creating a safe space in the community. Hand out the Wellness
Mentoring Circle/Group Covenants and review each of the agreements. Invite students to take turns
reading them aloud. Remember to discuss the “right to pass, giving students the freedom to choose
not to share and “step up, step back” to make room for the quieter voices to emerge in the Circle.
Explain that some people take more time to gure out what they need to say, or how they want to
convey their feelings. Ask Circle participants’ about their understanding of condentiality and their
willingness to uphold it and clarify how the group can share without divulging condential infor-
mation and ensure a trustworthy space for everyone. Talk about what will happen if condentiality
is broken. How will we acknowledge and repair trust? Let the group decide this together, with the
facilitator or a mentor guiding the discussion.
Be sure to ask participants to suggest any additional agreements—and be sure to capture their
meaning and not just their words. Demonstrate caring and committed listening through your facili-
tation of this introductory group process by giving your full attention to each speaker and repeat-
ing what you heard to ensure accuracy for the note taker. Finally, underscore the importance of the
Circle and the idea that we are a continuum. Emphasize that our interactions are not about what’s
right or wrong or listening to one leader; we are here to support and sustain one another without
beginning or end—like a circle itself.
Reminder: Convey your mandatory reporting responsibility as a caring adult and WMC facilitator
and mentor as reviewed in our ongoing training sessions. Be sure to clarify any points of concern
that may arise, and ask if there are further questions before moving forward to group discussion.
Thank everyone for participating. Read through the list and collect the signed covenants.
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To facilitate an open
group discussion about
creating a safe space
for self-discovery
and giving and
receiving support for
authentic participation
THE OPENING SESSIONS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
WEEK ONE: SECOND ACTIVITY
Name of Activity: LISTEN, DONT LISTEN
Materials Needed: None
Length of Activity: 30 minutes
Description of Activity: You will need eight volunteers to
model the exercise. Four people will serve as speakers, while
the remaining four will act as listeners. Break your group of
eight into couples—dyads—and ask the rst set of
volunteers to sit opposite each other.
Instruct the speakers to talk to their partners for two
minutes about a subject of their choosing. Privately instruct
all speakers and listeners before the exercise begins.
Instruct the rst “listener to agree with the speaker so
vigorously that his or her Amens” and That’s rights” drown
out the speaker.
Ask the next listener to argue and disagree throughout the dialogue.
Have the third dyad demonstrate distracted listening, with the listener texting or participating in
some other activity even as he or she claims to be fully present.
The nal pair should demonstrate committed listening, with the listener nodding appropriately and
perhaps asking a well-timed and non-intrusive question.
Ask the group to break into twos and replicate the four ways to listen that have just been demon-
strated for them.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
What did participants notice and feel while they were role-playing?
What did those who were watching feel?
What kind of listener does each person believe he or she is?
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To demonstrate the
importance and process of
committed listening and
contrast it with less
empowering responses for
the purpose of establishing
a supportive and strong
Circle environment
THE OPENING SESSIONS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Materials Needed: Paper and pens
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Establishing trust is key in ensuring that the Circles work well and provide
the emotional undergirding students need and deserve. As the weeks go on and trust is built, you
will see the students go ever deeper as they and the adults around them take o their masks and
enjoy revealing themselves to one another—and also to themselves. But for this rst Getting to
Know You exercise, a lighter approach is the best way to ensure that our youngsters feel safe in
establishing these new relationships.
In this fun-lled activity, encourage students to share amusing facts about themselves with one
another. Mentors and facilitators should model the exercise rst. One mentor might share with
another, as the class listens in, three quirks that most people are unaware of. For example:
Every morning I sing really loudly while I get dressed.
I still have my rst stued animal.
I rip up photos when I don’t like the way I look in the picture.
After both people have shared light-hearted facts about themselves, they will then introduce their
partner to the rest of the room:
This is Jabari, and he sleeps with his rst stued animal, sings out loud every morning
while getting dressed and throws away photos if he doesn’t look y in them.
Ask students to pair o, interview one another and write down the fun facts—which may seem silly
but open us up to revealing ourselves and connecting to one another.
After everyone has had about 10 minutes to do interviews, each student should introduce his or her
partner to the group using the fun facts that were shared.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
What commonalities did you nd between yourself and others?
• How did you feel doing this exercise? Do you feel more relaxed?
When you learn things about people that are silly or fun, does that make you feel
more comfortable with them?
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To help students,
mentors and facilitators
get to know
one another
THE OPENING SESSIONS: WEEK TWO
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
MENTORING
…the truth is, if there ain’t no hope for the youth, then there ain’t
no hope for the future Tupac Amaru Shakur
T
he National CARES Mentoring Movement helps to provide Black children in under-resourced
communities and their peers with able, stable, consistent adults who can support and nur-
ture their dreams and aspirations. The following sessions go right to the heart of the work we
do. After grounding students—and yourself—with the opening sessions, the mentoring
begins, because what we know is true is that when the community is well, children are mentored
and guided and even adults are supported and advised by our elders and others. This truth has
been disrupted for many of our young, which is why we are doing this work—so that our children
will have what they need and deserve to navigate a dicult and evolving world. The next two
weeks activities ask students to consider what success means. We’ll close with the deeply emotional
and impactful activity Who Are You, which asks young people to shed the masks we’ve all been
taught to wear and, instead, honor who they truly are. This opens the way to self-discovery and self-
ecacy—which is the goal of mentoring.
MENTORING WEEK ONE
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: YOU’RE A SUCCESS!
EMBRACE IT!
Materials Needed: Successful You handouts, a video player, projector, speakers and screen on
which to play the video; CARES labeled notebooks
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Begin watching the provided clip from the movie The Pursuit of Happy-
ness, where Will Smiths character Chris sees a man parking a luxury car. (We will provide you with a
capsule of the backstory.) Chris introduces himself and secures an opportunity for an interview at
NSOROMMAWTHE SYMBOL OF GUARDIANSHIP
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To help students
create a clear vision
of success
a brokerage rm, which we then see him show up for. After you and the students have watched the
clip, begin a discussion emphasizing these points:
• Success is a process that involves both preparation and resilience.
• Preparation is dened as developing ones skills and talents.
• Resilience is the ability to pursue your goals despite adversity.
You will succeed when: preparation + resilience meet opportunity.
Pass out notebooks to students and let them know that everything they document is for their eyes
only—unless they choose to share it. Ask them to list what success would look like for them in one
column and what it would take to achieve that success in another column. Encourage them to con-
sider preparation and resilience as they think through what it would take. Using a show of hands,
ask the students to dene the term resilience (strength, resistance to trauma, toughness in the face
of challenges) to ensure that they are clear about the word’s meaning.
After 10 minutes, begin your guided discussion about the lm and the meaning of success:
Guided Group Discussion Questions
1. How does seeing the luxury car impact Chris?
2. What do you think Chris believes about himself?
3. How do the men in the board room respond to Chris?
4. Is Chris a success?
5. Who do you consider to be successful? Why?
6. What would success look like for you? Why?
Finally, please tell the students that the notebook is theirs to keep, update and change. Encourage
them to draw and write their dreams and goals in it as lists, poems, words and raps. Every two weeks
or each month, they should review what they’ve written and ask themselves: Have they moved
toward their goals? If so, great! Ask students how their mentors can help them to keep moving in the
right direction. If they haven’t been moving toward their goals, ask how mentors might help them
to change course, where the challenges are and what else The Rising program might oer them that
would be helpful. This is why we are here. Encourage student feedback throughout the program and
share it with the leader of The Rising and the National CARES team, so we can make adjustments and
changes that ensure engagement, ecacy and success of this pilot that you are helping us to create
for replication throughout the nation.
MENTORING
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
MENTORING WEEK TWO
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
JOURNAL PROMPT
CLOSE
Name of Activity: WHO ARE YOU?
Materials Needed: List of questions to be posed by the facilitator, a watch or timer and video of
married couple Marcia and Michael Eric Dyson, previously screened for facilitators
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: For this exercise to work its magic, it is best to model it with another adult
rst. Young people will likely feel safer opening up if you have done so too. Tell students that for this
activity a partner will be required and ask them to select one they’ll nd it easy to be honest with.
Remind them that sometimes it is easier to be honest with a stranger than someone who knows
them well, but let them choose their own partners. If students do not nd a partner, gently assign
them one. (You will be encouraged to mix them up in later sessions, but it is important to build trust
in small steps).
Finally, explain that we are doing this exercise because mentoring—truly being able to support
someone—is most eective and life-giving when we are our truest selves. When we present a false
version of ourselves, we add additional stress to our lives and do not receive the help or support we
both need and deserve.
Once the students are in pairs ask them to consider the meaning of both of these questions:
1. Who do people say you are?
2. Who do you pretend to be? (Note: young people often have a hard time admitting that
they pretend to be anything other than who they are. Encourage them to think hard about
the times when they have pretended.)
Instruct Partner A to listen—just listen—to each answer provided by Partner B. Partner A students are not
to give any feedback or make comments. Without replying to their partners responses, they are to repeat
the same question over and over again, until you call time. (Give them two minutes per round of question-
ing.) Then, instruct the students to switch, so that the B partners ask the A partners the same question.
During the exercise facilitators and mentors should walk around and check on the pairs. Encourage them
to participate fully and engage in intentional listening. (Remind them of the committed listening exercise.)
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To encourage students
to think more deeply about
how they are seen
and how they
see themselves
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
MENTORING
Guided Group Discussion Questions
• How was the experience of asking?
• How was the experience of answering?
What was most dicult part of this exercise?
• Did you nd out anything new about yourself?
Journal Prompt: Ask students to go home and think about what supports they truly need to be
their most successful selves—not just successful in school, but to feel happy and at peace in their
spirit. Ask them to write a list of those supports—such as reliable and trustworthy friends or help
with managing stress and feelings of sadness or anger—and to consider sharing it with a mentor,
facilitator or other caring adult from The Risings.
MENTORING
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
HERITAGE
“If you don’t understand yourself, you don’t understand anyone else
—Nikki Giovanni
T
he lack of historically balanced and culturally competent education, coupled with the on-
slaught of vulgar media images have left most of our young—indeed many of us—languish-
ing in a place where we reject and even hate the very essence of who we are. On school-
yards across the nation we still hear, “Eeew, she so Black. On television, we are inundated
with images of babies with swollen bellies traumatized by war, but not of the beauty and balance of
Ghana or Senegal—and surely not of the foreign manipulations and the funding of a few that cre-
ate the torture and pain of the many.
The Black Power Movement of the 1960s and ’70s saw us embrace our legacy as one that stretched
back to the beginning of our stories and was lled with more triumph than trauma. We learned of
great societies that were matrilineal, that prized education, that honored the young as hope and
promise. Our history did not begin with slavery, as has often been taught to young people. It is impor-
tant to remind ourselves and our children every day that we are more than our worst experience.
We are more than our greatest pain. We are a multi-faced and multifaceted collection of survivors
and builders and dreamers and artists and thinkers and change-makers. And peacemakers. The
exercises and discussions in this session mean to demonstrate these basic truths.
HERITAGE WEEK ONE
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
FIRST ACTIVITY
SECOND ACTIVITY
JOURNAL PROMPT
CLOSE
Name of Activity: LIBATION
Materials Needed: A plant, water pitcher and container for overow
Length of Activity: 20 minutes
SANKOFAWTHE SYMBOL OF LEARNING FROM THE PAST TO FIX THE FUTURE
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To help students understand
and honor their
cultural heritage through ritual
Description of Activity: Pouring libation is an ancient tradition, a walk of remembrance, a way
to say that we are neither the first nor alone. It has survived the Middle Passage and chattel
slavery. It has survived Jim Crow and mass incarceration. Every time we pour out water—or
beer—on the ground for a fallen friend, we are pouring libation. When we call their names in
our music: libation! In this exercise, which can be used to open each assembly or during mo-
ments of note, we are living and being in the best traditions and practices of our ancestors.
With this ritual we do not grieve. Rather we remember, hold on to, honor and are edied by those
who are no longer with us. We recall all that their lives gave us, and as we reect on our own actions,
those whom we’ve lost live again.
Take constructive care in explaining libation to students and why we do the ritual. Explain that in
African philosophical thought, when we call the names of our ancestors we acknowledge that we
stand on their shoulders; that we are rivers with sources; and that as we are here, so too are they
because they live within us. We are all standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us.
We honor ancestors and invite their wisdom and guidance. Acknowledge that the ritual, although
ceremonial, is not religious, but cultural and arms the value of living in community.
After each name is called, pour a small amount of water into the plant and invite the students to say
with you, Ashe. Ashe is a Yoruba word that means and so it is” or Amen. Begin with names from
our collective memory and history, from Africa through the current day: Nelson Mandela, Shaka
Zulu, Nanny of the Maroons, Harriet Tubman, Fred Hampton, Bob Marley, Tupac. Consider saying a
word or two about each. For example:
For transforming a nation and a world and never allowing his spirit to be imprisoned,
we remember Nelson Mandela (Ashe!)
For courage and selfness and leading her people through the dark underground into
freedom, we remember Harriet Tubman (Ashe!)
Remember the lives of local young people and young people in our world whom we lost too soon,
like Derrion Albert and Trayvon Martin. For example:
And we remember the lights that had barely begun to burn, lights turned out too soon.
We call your names:
Trayvon Martin
Derrion Albert
(Ashe!)
Guided Group Discussion Questions
Who are your ancestors?
• How do you keep the memory of your loved ones alive?
• How did it feel to remember those who are no longer with us?
Were there names or words you did not recognize?
Where can you learn more about your heritage?
HERITAGE
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
SECOND ACTIVITY OF THE WEEK
Name of Activity: WHAT IS TRUE ABOUT US?
Materials Needed: Paper and pens
Length of Activity: 30 minutes
Description of Activity: The facilitator gives students
a piece of paper and asks them to consider what
strengths and powers they carry within their DNA.
For example, you might begin by saying:
In my DNA, there is the memory of the great empires
built by our ancestors in our Motherland, Africa and also the memory of slavery in the South.
These DNA memories were passed down to my mother (one of 13 from a loving family) and
were joined with those of my father, a proud and ambitious boy whose Ashanti ancestors were
enslaved on the island of Jamaica. He left Jamaica for Chicago to “make his fortune.” They met,
married and struggled mightily together, which led to my courage and unwillingness to give up
on a dream and my unconditional love for our people.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
•What practices continue to be strong within our communities as a result of our shared
heritage? (An example might be greeting Black people who are strangers as friends with a
head nod and smile.)
Close: Students oer a line of gratitude for someone, living or dead, who has helped guide them in
their lives or through a dicult time.
Journal Prompt: Ask students to go home and write in whatever form—paragraphs, poems, raps—
about a person from their lives or from history who is no longer here, but whom they would like to
spend one hour with and why.
HERITAGE WEEK TWO
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: THE MYTH OF BLACK INFERIORITY
Materials Needed: The video clip montage that includes scenes from Tom Burrell’s Resolution
Project, Bamboozled, School Daze, Chris Rocks Good Hair, the Boogie Down Productions music video
HERITAGE
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To help students discern
the insidiousness of
internalized oppression
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To acknowledge
and experience
our connection to
our history and
the best traditions of
our foreparents
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Take students through the video clip montage, pausing after each clip for
discussion. Your questions should help them reect more deeply on what they have seen in the clip.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
Who is beautiful?
• How does the media shape our ideas about beauty?
What is good hair?
Why did the children say the Black doll was bad?
• Is light skin better than dark skin? Why?
• How do businesses make money perpetuating negative ideas and images
about us?
Why do we feel bad about ourselves and what is internalized oppression?
Why do we talk about other people?
• How do we contribute to our own oppression?
What images do you see in the media of Africa? Of Africans?
Why don’t you see the millions of people who vacation there? Businesses?
Shopping Malls? Downtowns? Resorts?
Closing: Leave a graphic caricature from Bamboozled or another clip from the video up on the screen.
Have students stand and repeat the following armation as call and response with the group leader:
This is not the truth about me. My Black is beautiful. My Black is beautiful. I am beautiful. Just the way
I am. My hair is beautiful. My skin is beautiful. My people are beautiful. My heritage is beautiful. I love
being me. I LOVE being me.
Make sure to replace the clip with a more beautiful and powerful image as students raise their voices.
Why Is That” and the YouTube video The Africa You Never See on TV, as well as the full clip from
the Black Doll / White Doll experiment.
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
HERITAGE
SPIRITUALITY
My hope for my children must be that they respond to the still, small
voice of God in their own hearts.” —Andrew Young
S
pirituality is not religion. It is the understanding that we are bigger than what we appear to
be, that we are connected to the Creator of life more than we or anyone can see.
This session is designed to help students understand that they are loved and protected by
the Creator of life and to connect with that power, which resides in all of us. Here, we will link some
of the customs of our heritage with worldwide practices of ritual and meditation, as part of a meth-
od we will refer to as centering. Our activities for this session will engage students in exploring
the power of thought and openly discussing personal beliefs about how it operates in the unseen
world. We intentionally selected spirituality as the launch to the second half of the curriculum and
will use the idea of honoring our highest self as the basis for the work going forward. Once we invite
our students to open the door to their own spirit, we can be assured that they will begin to blossom
as expected and in ways we are working toward.
Explain that, for Black people, to divorce ourselves from our spiritual nature is to become discon-
nected from our essence. While we are limited in what can be said in classrooms about a specic
religion, we can and must invite our students to reect on how to activate the positive force of the
Creator in their lives. Nothing can uplift the human experience more than a personal relationship
with the Divine. Whether we encourage them to see the Majestic in nature all around them, be-
come comfortable with silence or practice honoring their elders and ancestors, we must bless our
students with the gift of introspection and opportunities for contemplation and stillness. They must
become aware that the Divine lives in them as well.
In these activities, your aim as facilitators and mentors is to hold a safe space for everyone’s emerg-
ing self-awareness. The most helpful position is as guides pointing students to their own center of
truth. Practice committed and compassionate listening. Our purpose is not to represent a particular
faith or practice, but to simply open the way for students to nd their own path and purpose and
hear the calling of their own hearts. A useful tool for staying in the present moment and holding a
conscious, safe space is to ask unobtrusive questions. It is important that students feel free to voice
their questions and share their experiences without being confronted by the opinions of others.
Your role in the Circle includes reminding the group to allow for all voices to be heard and every
experience to be honored.
Facilitators and mentors are strongly encouraged to share their own spiritual practices and testimo-
nies to bring a heightened awareness to this session.
NYAME NTIWTHE SYMBOL OF FAITH AND TRUST IN GOD
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
SPIRITUALITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
SPIRITUALITY WEEK ONE
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: INTRODUCTION TO CENTERING
Materials Needed: None
Length of Activity: 15 minutes for pre-discussion, ve minutes for the activity, 25 minutes for
post-discussion
Description of Activity: Share with students this quote by Dr. Ko Kondwani from the A New Way
Forward manual: “Over time you will train your mind to remain peaceful and calm no matter what is
happening around you. Elicit their responses to the passage and share moments when you yourself
found calm in a place of chaos. Discuss how nding that sense of calm helped you.
Invite the students to remove everything from their hands and desks, turn o their cell phones and put
them away and to get comfortable and still in their chair. Remind them that while meditation is a part
of many faiths, centering is a habit used in everything from performing arts to Olympic competition.
Lead the students through a ve-minute practice of a simple meditation technique called Consciously
Resting Meditation (CRM) using the instructions from page 29 of the A New Way Forward manual. After
the meditation, invite students to remain in silence and to journal about their experience.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
1. Can the mind be trained? How do we train the mind?
2. Are you uncomfortable or comfortable being by yourself? Being still? Being quiet?
3. Do you ever completely unplug? Do you sleep with the television on? Music? Do you
keep your phone by your bed?
4. How do you feel when you are out in nature? In a wooded park or forest? On the water?
In a garden?
5. Have you ever been in a dangerous or confusing situation and experienced a sudden
calmness? How would you describe that feeling? Is that a place you can consciously
choose to go to in your mind when a challenging situation arises?
SPIRITUALITY WEEK TWO
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
JOURNAL PROMPT
CLOSE
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To introduce students
to the practice
of centering
Name of Activity: WHAT ARE MY VALUES?
Materials Needed: Values Cards (printed, cut and
sorted into a stack of 20 for each student) and desk/table
or oor space where students may work and view each
others work.
Length of Activity: 20 minutes for the activity, 35 minutes
for discussion
Description of Activity: Young people rarely get the opportunity to reect on their core values. The
media, their peers and well-meaning adults consistently bombard them with messages and advice
about which direction their lives should take. This exercise invites them to identify for themselves
what is most important.
Distribute a stack of Values Cards to each student. Each card contains a dierent key word that may
be meaningful to the student, such as creativity, “adventure, or achievement. Direct the students
to sort the cards into two piles—values that are most important to them and values that are less
important or not important at all. Let them know that they’ll have just ve minutes for the task;
the short amount of time will inject a sense of urgency into the activity and force students to get
engaged quickly.
Once the ve minutes are up tell them to look through their top 10 values, pick the ve that best
represent them and lay them out on their workspace. Give them a little more time for this phase
of the activity. Some students may ask for denitions of the words, but unless they are unfamiliar
with a term, redirect the question and invite them to decide for themselves what they mean. This
exercise is about their own understanding and denitions. Students may also ask if they can write in
a value not listed. If so, invite them to write in values as they see t. Other students may ask if they
are supposed to pick values they believe in or values they practice. All of these questions are an im-
portant part of the activity—encourage them to pick values they believe in, but remember to come
back to this contradiction in the group discussion.
Once they have selected ve core values, ask them to put them in order of importance to them.
Have the students walk around the room and silently observe their classmates choices. Invite them
to notice the dierences and similarities. Ask them to return to their own workspace and select one
value that is most important to them. Go around the room and ask students to share their value by
saying, “My name is Jabari, and my most important value is …
Guided Group Discussion Questions
1. Was it easy or dicult to pick your values? (Ask for a show of hands.)
2. What values were easiest for you to eliminate?
3. What values were hardest for you to eliminate?
4. What similarities and dierences did you notice as you walked around the room?
5. Why did you pick your top value?
6. Are there any values that you want to practice, but are not really living up to? Why?
Journal Prompt: Invite students to write in their journals—in whatever form they chose—about a
value they want to create or strengthen in themselves and the steps and time frame that they will
take to do it.
SPIRITUALITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To encourage students
to reect on
their core values
SPIRITUALITY WEEK THREE
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: HEAVY, HEAVY/LIGHT, LIGHT EXPERIMENT
Materials Needed: A chair with no arms, ve responsible
student volunteers
Length of Activity: 10 minutes for the experiment, 15 minutes for discussion
Description of Activity: Because this activity involves direct contact between students, it is vitally
important to monitor all actions closely and ensure the safety of the subject throughout the activ-
ity. Your discretion is key.
Pick a student of average or above-average size to be lifted and four responsible student volun-
teers who will work together to lift the subject. Do not select a small student or the activity will not
be as eective.
Direct the subject to sit in the designated chair. Position student volunteers around the subject
while extending two ngers under each of the subjects arms and knees. Volunteers then clasp their
free hands together and try to lift the student, which they will nd very dicult to do. After this rst
attempt, share with the students the power of thought and how changes in thinking can alter the
results of the experiment. Tell them thoughts are energy and just by changing your ideas you can
change what happens. Explain how sharing thoughts or ideas can inuence the belief of others if
they accept the thought as true.
Next, ask students to each place one hand over the seated student’s head and think of how heavy
the person is. Direct them to repeat the word heavy in unison. Ask them to lift the student again
and note the ease or diculty of this attempt. Then, the volunteers are to imagine the student
being very light and as easy to lift as a feather. Ask them to repeat the word “light in unison. Direct
them to lift the student again. The results are often remarkable as the student is lifted much higher
than in previous attempts! Ask the participants to share how the exercise felt to them. Ask the
group to share their feelings about what they witnessed. To what do they attribute the diculty and
the ease of lifting the person? After listening to their responses ask them to have a seat in the Circle
and move into the guided questions for the discussion.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
Lead the group in this discussion with the understanding that common beliefs are not universal
truths. Remind students that faith is a very powerful concept. The success of this conversation weighs
on your leadership and ability to demonstrate respect for dierent opinions and beliefs. Students can
be swift to perceive bias and we should not assume that everyone shares the same beliefs or even
knows what they believe yet. Encourage students to share freely and to listen with curiosity.
SPIRITUALITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To foster reection
on the power of the mind
and spirit
SPIRITUALITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
1. Do you have faith? If so, in what?
2. How would you describe your relationship to your faith?
3. What do you do when you are sad, confused and don’t know where to turn?
DENKYEMWTHE SYMBOL OF ADAPTABILITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
STRESS
“Give yourself to yourself before you give yourself to the world.
—Susan L. Taylor
O
ne of the most important aspects of mentoring is having compassion for young
people who are handling levels of stress in their daily lives that we adults, too, would
nd overwhelming. From the fear of injury or death lurking in many of their neigh-
borhoods and homes, to the loss of loved ones, from the intense peer pressure that
all teens face, to the push to succeed academically with too few supports, our under-resourced
children are carrying far too much.
In these sessions, the goal is to oer young people key resources to help them understand and
manage stress. The sense of safety and support you are creating within your Circles will positively
impact students—many of whom are longing for a listening ear. Now is the time to introduce them
to formal and informal mechanisms that will support their journey to emotional wellness and psy-
chological freedom. We begin by exploring the powerful tools of mindfulness and forgiveness.
Explain to the young people in your Circle that we live in a world of injustices—a world in which
some people have caused others such pain and destruction that forgiveness seems unimaginable.
Indeed, many of us are angry about what happened not just yesterday, but decades ago. But anger
leaves a cloud over your head that travels with you. It turns to bitterness and destroys the host.
Anger can also obscure a greater truth. For example, no people in human history have suered
the brutality African Americans endured over centuries—and survived. Indeed we have done
more than survive. We have created life and love and music and art and institutions of learning,
and houses of worship. We have been so harmed and yet created a movement—the Civil Rights
Movement—that was dened by the deepest love. The reality is that our history is as painful as it is
powerful. We are the people who refused to die.
All human beings will know pain, the kinds caused by others and also by our own choices. We will
be left, disrespected, disregarded, lied on and abused—emotionally and, for some of us, physically.
Let’s admit that while it is sometimes dicult to have compassion for those who’ve hurt us, it is the
only path to inner peace, as well as peace in the community, in the country and on earth. Holding
onto anger and resentment hurts us the most. We are here to learn to love and to grow in wisdom
and understanding. The goal is to be able to see peoples woundedness, to see beyond their hurtful
and often horric behaviors. Each act of forgiveness is an act of love, and it’s a miracle and a marvel
that we are able. To forgive is divine. This is how we become well in body, mind and soul.
As a facilitator or mentor, these next sessions require you to trust the process and let things unfold
naturally. It is important in your role to serve not only as a guide but also as a listener. Your most
important job is to create a space for our young people to feel safe sharing what is in their hearts.
They will look to you to determine whether their emotions are valid. Many of them will be sharing
their feelings and fears for the rst time and need the encouragement and armation that it’s not
S
STRESS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
just okay to do so, it’s important to their emotional wellness and life-long happiness. Don’t feel the
need to rush in with tissues or advice, impulses that can often be a sign of the listener’s discomfort.
Be compassionate and let them experience what they are so often yearning for—caring adults
who will listen without judgment. Students are building community and will comfort one another
when necessary. As always, it is important to model the behavior we are seeking. If you are able to
share your own painful experiences and how you overcame them or how you may still be working
through them, without dominating the conversation, it will encourage young people to express
their feelings and not feel so vulnerable. That you have and continue to work to overcome lifes
many challenges is the conrmation our children need that the same is possible for them.
Remember in this section to caution youngsters about condentiality practices, and that you must
be mindful of mandatory reporting and trauma response.
STRESS WEEK ONE
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
JOURNAL PROMPT
Name of Activity: GETTING TO THE SOURCE
Materials Needed: Stress handout, pens and a surface to write on
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Begin the session with a general check-in and ask the students in your
Circle how they are feeling today. Ask if anyone in the group is stressed and invite those who say
they are to briey share what the source of their stress is. At the end of the students sharing, ask
by a show of hands if anyone else is experiencing similar stressors. If a lot of hands go up, repeat
the process with a brief share from a mentor or the lead facilitator. This step is critically important.
Young people sometimes have trouble conding in adults because they don’t think we will under-
stand their fears and frustrations. When adults share their own challenges, it encourages young
people to trust them.
Remind students that we often don’t know what is going on beyond the surface in the lives of
people we interact with every day. Distribute the stress and coping handout and let the students
know that their answers are private and that the sheet is for their use only. Ask them to be respect-
ful of each others’ privacy.
Next, provide 10 minutes for students to ll out the form, keeping in mind that many will nish the
sheet much more quickly than others. Before beginning your discussion, remind students of group
agreements, stressing condentiality and respect for other members of the group.
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To help students identify
stress in their lives
STRESS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
Lost a friend to violence
Loss of job
Failed a test
Failed a class
Parents loss of job
Divorce
Pregnancy
Breakup of relationship
Relationship rejection
Lost a family member to violence
Health challenge
Health challenge of friend or
family member
Witnessed an act of violence
Loss or change of residence
Stopped by the police
Violence in neighborhood
Unable to meet expenses
Survived an act of violence
Diculty sleeping
Hunger
Digestion problems/upset stomach
Abuse (physical, verbal, sexual
or emotional)
Headaches
Painful cramps
Unable to aord medical, vision or
dental care
Embarrassed or belittled by an adult or
loved one
Pressure to get into college
Trouble understanding class material
Conict with a teacher
Pressure to get a job
Guided Group Discussion Questions
Explain to students that there is deep value in simply being heard and ask if anyone would be
willing to share what they checked o or what they are feeling. Remind them that it is okay to cry—
strong men cry too—and that our instinct will be to disrupt the crying in some gentle or loving way,
but we don’t have to. Tears can be cleansing, and too often we are not allowed to cleanse ourselves,
which can turn our pain into anger.
Closing: Circle of Hope
Ask students to form a circle and to stand as close together as possible. Instruct each student to
put out his or her st and stick his or her thumb out to the left. Then ask students to grasp the
outstretched thumb of the student to their right with their st. All hands should form one continu-
ous circle. Remind the students of the purpose of Wellness Mentoring Circles and the way in which
we are rebuilding community and becoming supports for each other. Tell students to meet eyes
with one student across the circle. Ask them to repeat the following words: “I’ve got you. (Repeat.)
“You are not in this by yourself. (Repeat.) Together we are stronger than any of the obstacles in our
path. (Repeat.) Ask each student in the Circle of Hope to say one word that represents their gift to
the circle. Leaders should set the example by saying, “I bring the gift of hope, or laughter, support,
truth, etc. End with a group armation. Have the students say together: Together we are stronger
than any of the obstacles in our path.
Journal Prompt: Peace to me means_____________________.
To help you determine the source of the stress in your life, check o all the events that have had an
impact on you in the last year or more:
*A printable version of this chart appears at the end of this section.
STRESS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
STRESS WEEK TWO
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: LET IT GO
Materials Needed: Clip from the lm Antwone Fisher,
balloons, paper, pens
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Show the clip from the lm Antwone Fisher in which Dr. Jerome Daven-
port—Denzel Washington’s character—explains the importance of forgiveness, and lead a brief dis-
cussion about why forgiveness matters so very much. Be real with students by acknowledging that
this is a place in which many of us adults get stuck. We live in a world of injustices. Some people
have caused others such pain and destruction that forgiveness may seem like too much to ask of us.
The annihilation of First Nation peoples and the theft of their land; the brutality we endured during
the enslavement of our people; the European Holocaust, and the Holocausts in Rwanda, Bosnia,
Cambodia, Tibet. And how do you forgive apartheid? Or the displays of cruelty that go on in com-
munities throughout the U.S. each day? Each act of forgiveness is an act of love, and it’s a miracle
and a marvel that we are able. To forgive is divine.
Personally, so many of us are mad at what happened not just yesterday but decades ago. As wise
woman and teacher Iyanla Vanzant explains, we often experience stress and unhappiness because
we think about whatever situation has caused us pain as if it’s still going on. It’s our thoughts and
feelings about the event, rather than the actual event itself, that ultimately cause wounds to fester.
The majority of adults who are suering with depression not caused by chemical imbalances, are
hurt, angry and blaming others for hurts in their past. As stated previously, the reality is that in our
lifetime we will be hurt by others and also by our own choices; we will be left, disrespected, disre-
garded, lied on, lied to and abused. Facilitators: It is critical that you bring your own personal experi-
ence to the front here, encapsulated so that it does not take much time away from the students
sharing. Your sharing will engender trust among the students and help them to feel safe enough to
share. In sharing truths, we adults and the children we serve begin to heal.
To help students open themselves up to the process, ask them to privately write down the name
and role of a key gure in their life with whom they may be having an upset or feel betrayed by.
Next, ask them to silently consider this prompt: “I haven’t been able to forgive blank for blank. The
goal is to have them create a simple sentence that describes the upset. Ask for volunteers to share
their thoughts aloud, but rst have a facilitator or mentor do the exercise while others watch, to
help students nd the courage to share. Encourage the group to acknowledge and support each
speaker by reciting the following four phrases in succession: “I hear you, “I am so sorry, “You didn’t
deserve it, and You didn’t do anything wrong.
Afterwards, distribute a balloon to each student and ask them to make a list of all of the people or
incidents they have had trouble forgiving. Ask them to look at each item on their list and, one at a
time, blow a breath into the balloon for each person or incident. Ask them to notice how their body
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To provide students with
a way of releasing harms
done to them and anger
they may still hold
STRESS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
feels as they think of the person or incident and the energy it takes to blow up the balloon. Have
them hold their balloon up and reect on whether they are living their life like the balloon, by being
full of resentments. Have them try to conduct a simple activity, like writing their names on a piece
of paper while keeping the balloon tightly closed. Remind them, as Sister Iyanla has suggested, that
when youre holding on tight to an upset, you don’t have the energy to do much else. Now tell them
you want them to let go of all these resentments. Have them let the air out of the balloon. Invite
them to notice how easily the air leaves the balloon compared to how hard it was to blow up. Once
the resentments have been released, have the students return to the circle.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
1. How long have you been holding onto resentments toward people who
have hurt you?
2. How did you feel when you were thinking of them?
3. Was it hard to complete your task while trying to hold onto the balloon? Do your
resentments sometimes make your life harder?
4. Was there one resentment that stood out to you that you would be willing to share with
the group?
5. What would it take for you to really forgive and let your resentments go?
Journal Prompts: Not forgiving (person/situation) makes me feel _________________. Releasing
my anger makes me feel________________________________.
Lost a friend to violence
Loss of job
Failed a test
Failed a class
Parents loss of job
Divorce
Pregnancy
Breakup of relationship
Relationship rejection
Lost a family member to violence
Health challenge
Health challenge of friend or
family member
Witnessed an act of violence
Loss or change of residence
Stopped by the police
Violence in neighborhood
Unable to meet expenses
Survived an act of violence
Diculty sleeping
Hunger
Digestion problems/upset stomach
Abuse (physical, verbal, sexual
or emotional)
Headaches
Painful cramps
Unable to aord medical, vision or
dental care
Embarrassed or belittled by an adult or
loved one
Pressure to get into college
Trouble understanding class material
Conict with a teacher
Pressure to get a job
To help you determine the source of the stress in your life, check o all the events that have had an
impact on you in the last year or more:
STRESS CHECKLIST
SPIRITUALITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
SESA WO SUBANWTHE SYMBOL OF TRANSFORMATION
WELLNESS
“Healing begins where the wound was made. —Alice Walker
W
hat does it mean to be well? Not to simply survive or cope, but to thrive? How can
we create the lives we want? What is our role in teaching our young people that love
is a verb and there are actions they can take which will liberate and empower them
in any situation? In this section we explore the powerful choices that bring us peace,
health and true happiness.
One of the many ways we can support the success of our students is by helping them navigate
the world around them. As they mature, they become more empowered to make decisions about
everything that concerns them. Our role as mentors is to help educate them about the potential
impact of their choices. We do this not through rebuke or by evoking fear and shame, but by provid-
ing them with sound information and a supportive, safe environment to which they can bring their
authentic self.
Throughout these workshops, it is important that we acknowledge our own challenges and short-
comings. Our young people need to see that adulthood is an ever-unfolding series of leaps and
stumbles, not a peak of perfection, which we know is unattainable. It is okay for us to admit that we
haven’t attained all of these goals, yet. Our purpose is to help students understand the importance
of critical thinking, which leads to informed decision making and a lifelong commitment to sus-
taining our health and vitality. As we engage them in discussions about the negative choices that
impact their lives, we must also remember not to focus solely on the symptoms of self-defeating
behavior, but on the new healthy patterns to replace ineective coping strategies.
WELLNESS WEEK ONE
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: HOW I GET THROUGH
Materials Needed: Coping handout, pens and a surface
to write on
Length of Activity: Entire session
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To help students identify
which coping mechanisms
are really working for them
and which are not
WELLNESS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
Description of Activity: As with the stress checklist, the group should sit in a circle and, for 10
minutes, check o coping mechanisms they use to get through their days. There is no judgment
here and this must be underscored. All of us are seeking to just get through the day feeling as good
about ourselves as we possibly can—even when and if the choices we make don’t actually serve us.
When we are loved, honored, supported and given options, most of us will make better choices. This
exercise is meant to help students along that path, rather than to judge them for the roads they may
have been walking.
COPINGWhat strategies have I used to deal with the stress in my life? When I am angry, stressed or
upset the things I am most likely to do are:
Watch TV
Listen to music
Play video games
Talk on the phone
Visit social media
Visit sex sites
Hang out with friends
Pray
Go to church
Talk to a trusted friend
Talk to a trusted adult
Smoke weed
Drink alcohol
Use other drugs
Steal
Fight
Argue with friends or siblings
Argue with parents
Eat junk food
Have sex
Go to a party
Exercise/play sports
Create art (dance, sing, write, draw,
paint, etc.)
Smoke cigarettes
Engage in bullying, gossiping and putting
others down
Go to the movies
Take a bath
Spend time with family or loved ones
Play with little children
Guided Group Discussion Questions
After reminding students again that there is deep value in simply being heard, invite them to share
a coping mechanism that they have checked o, if they choose. But rst, begin by sharing the cop-
ing mechanisms you, as adults, have chosen that have not served you. Talk about why you chose
them and how you’ve learned to choose dierently. Be mindful to condense your remarks so the
students have time and space for self-discovery. Again, remind everyone that tears are not a sign
of weakness, but rather point to the ability to think and feel deeply, so it is okay to cry. Then ask if
anyone would be willing to share from what she or he has checked o or is feeling.
Closing: Group Commitment
Have students stand in a circle. Remind them that in order to have something dierent they have to
do something dierent. Ask them to pick one coping mechanism they intend to let go of and one
they intend to embrace. Starting with mentors, have each member step in the middle and declare
his or her one-sentence commitment. For example, a group member might say, “I let go of smoking
and I embrace exercising three times per week. The group should respond to each speaker with
We’ve got your back. After each person makes a commitment, repeat the stress armation as a
group: Together we are stronger than any of the obstacles in our path.
*A printable version of this chart appears at the end of this section.
WELLNESS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
WELLNESS WEEK TWO
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
JOURNAL PROMPT
Name of Activity: WHAT TYPE OF LUXURY VEHICLE ARE YOU?
Materials Needed: Wellness essay by Susan L. Taylor on p. 53
of the ANWF Manual, pens and paper and a dry-erase board
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Too often, we determine our bodies
value based on what we see in the media, from magazines to
movies. Are we tall enough, curvy enough? Do we have the right size body parts? What we see
manipulates us into judging our bodies according to the value placed on it by those who are selling
us everything from clothes to diet plans. But our bodies are powerful far beyond that. This exercise
is meant to remind each student of the miracle of our bodies and all the things a body can do—be-
yond looking a certain way—and to illustrate what extraordinary and ecient machines they are.
Because what we know for sure is that when we love our bodies, and only when we love our bodies,
we will take care of them.
To begin the exercise, ask students to list all the possible benets of having a vehicle. If they could
have a car would they want one? What do cars enable people to do?
Prompt the students to go a step further and think about their dream car. What kind of car would it
be? Who would they allow to drive it? What might they have to do to make sure the car remained in
top condition? How would they feel if the car was defaced or harmed in anyway? Allow students to
call out answers, and capture them on a sheet of paper or a dry erase board.
Then, encourage the students to see their bodies for what they are: vehicles that will get them
through life. To help them along, ask them to thoughtfully ll in the blanks below, comparing vital
parts of the body to key parts of a car.
The heart is the __________________________________.
The lungs are the _________________________________.
The stomach is the ________________________________.
The legs are the __________________________________.
The kidneys are the _______________________________.
The liver is the ___________________________________.
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To help students identify
which coping mechanisms
are really working for them
and which are not
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORSWELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
Guided Group Discussion Questions
When the students have nished writing in their answers, ask them:
1. Whom would they allow to drive their car?
2. Whom would they allow to touch their bodies?
3. What kind of fuel does their car need to run?
4. What kind of fuel do their bodies need to run?
5. What might they have to do to make sure the car remained in top condition?
6. Same question related to their bodies.
7. How would they feel if the car was harmed in anyway?
8. What are some of the things young people are doing today to harm their bodies?
9. What would they do to ensure their car was not defaced or harmed to begin with?
10. What should they do to keep their car / themselves in tip-top shape?
Begin closing the discussion by asking students to describe times when they were grateful for the
strength and power of their “vehicles. What kind of shape are their vehicles currently in? Are their
vehicles cruising through the day smoothly? Or stalling at various points? Are they putting poison
in their vehicles or choosing the best possible fuel? Are they giving their bodies and minds needed
rest, with more than eight hours of sleep each night? Ask people to share, popcorn style. Let the
conversation ow.
To end the activity, come back together in a circle of healing. Let all the students stand shoulder-to-
shoulder in the circle and say one thing about why their bodies are an amazing gift of life.
Journal Prompt: One thing I could do to make myself healthier is _____.
WELLNESS WEEK THREE
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
JOURNAL PROMPT
Name of Activity: EAT TO LIVE
Materials Needed: An excerpt from the lm Soul Food Junkies by Byron Hurt and clips from other
lms about healthful eating
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Show clips from the lms before moving into a guided group discussion.
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To demonstrate to
students examples of good,
quality food
WELLNESS
WELLNESS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
What healthful foods do you enjoy eating?
What foods can lead to illnesses? Which illnesses?
Do you know any older people with hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and that these
major killers of African Americans are related to stress, lack of exercise and poor eating habits?
Is there a respectful way we could shift to healthful, tasty food in our cafeteria? (This is a
great research project; students should identify ways in which students at other schools
made the shift.)
What are the healthful choices in fast food restaurants today?
Another research project: What types of food are easily available in their neighborhoods?
Closing: Have students check in on how they are doing with their commitments from the Stress
and Coping weeks. Are there any new commitments they want to make regarding nutrition?
Journal Prompt: One thing I am doing to make myself healthier is __________________.
One thing I’m going to start doing today to make myself healthier
is___________________________.
COPINGWhat strategies have I used to deal with the stress in my life? When I am angry, stressed or
upset the things I am most likely to do are:
Watch TV
Listen to music
Play video games
Talk on the phone
Visit social media
Visit sex sites
Hang out with friends
Pray
Go to church
Talk to a trusted friend
Talk to a trusted adult
Smoke weed
Drink alcohol
Use other drugs
Steal
COPING CHECKLIST
Fight
Argue with friends or siblings
Argue with parents
Eat junk food
Have sex
Go to a party
Exercise/play sports
Create art (dance, sing, write, draw, paint, etc.)
Smoke cigarettes
Engage in bullying, gossiping and putting
others down
Go to the movies
Take a bath
Spend time with family or loved ones
Play with little children
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
OSRAM NE NSOROMAWTHE SYMBOL OF LOVE, FAITHFULNESS AND HARMONY
RELATIONSHIPS
“How can I love somebody else / If I can’t love myself... —Mary J. Blige
T
he most important relationship we’ll ever have is the one we have with ourselves. Self-
acceptance is the cornerstone of self-esteem. When we practice loving ourselves fully,
healthy choices and relationships follow. Many young people are challenged by having dif-
cult relationships at home, in school and in their neighborhoods. A constant refrain heard
from our students at Chicagos Harlan High was, “I wish I had better friends. Choosing friends
who have a positive attitude about life and show by their words and actions that they see the
best in us and care about us helps us to feel nourished, encouraged and inspired. When we nd
ourselves surrounded by toxic and demoralizing personalities, we often internalize their struggles
and negative attitudes and adopt them as our own.
We’ve spent time looking inward, examining and encouraging ways for us to love ourselves. Now
we will ask students to consider the inuence of their key relationships on their own attitudes and
beliefs and assist them in developing strategies for coping with damaging inuences and nding
creative ways to claim their personal power. By exploring the topics of family, peers and intimate
relationships, we can support our young ones in transcending any limitations and nding the cour-
age to make choices that honor and support their well-being.
RELATIONSHIPS WEEK ONE
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
JOURNAL PROMPT
Name of Activity: THE WHERE I’M FROM” POEM
Materials Needed: Poem template worksheets, poem examples
Length of Activity: 15 minutes
Description of Activity: Who am I?” is a question on the minds of many adolescents. Where I’m
From poems get beyond aspects of identity that are obvious (such as ethnicity, gender and age) by
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To share the impact of
our family of origin on our
self-image through
creative expression.
RELATIONSHIPS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
focusing on other factors that shape our identities, such as experiences, relationships, hopes and in-
terests. Writing Where I’m From poems help students clarify important elements of their identity.
When these poems are shared they can help build peer relationships and foster a cohesive class-
room community. Where I’m From poems can also provide a creative way for students to increase
needed writing skills and demonstrate what they know about historical or literary gures.
Prior to asking students to write their poems, share with them the following example of a Where
I’m From poem. Please don’t feel pressured to do so, but it would be helpful in bonding with the
students for you to write your own Where I’m From poem and share it with the group. Give
students the opportunity to think about what it means to be “from” some place. Reading other
Where I’m From poems provides an eective prompt for this conversation.
I AM FROM
I am from old barbershops with new styles
I am from brownstones
I am from East 108 summer porch talks, human size speakers and my cousin teaching my
sister to ride a bike where others now are afraid to walk
I am from collard greens
I am from my grandmothers homemade jam
I am from Obama Fried Chicken
I am my Aunties’ African baskets
My mothers one faded childhood photo
And her sister’s purple lavender blanket
The one she knitted when I went away to college
Even as her ngers knotted into themselves in pain.
Brainstorm specic words and phrases that represent where students are from. Here are some cat-
egories they might consider as they brainstorm:
• Names of important people related to this place (relatives, friends, etc.)
• Special foods or meals eaten in this place
Traditions practiced in this place
• Favorite songs and stories
• Familiar phrases used in this place
• Ordinary items found there
• Important beliefs valued in this place
• Heroes of this place
• Signicant events (happy and/or sad) that have happened there
• Images, sounds and smells that represent this place
Referring to the Where I’m From poem example as a guide and drawing from the students brain-
storming, ask them to begin writing their own poems. “Where I’m From poems do not all follow the
exact same structure, but they do begin with the phrase “I am from…
Students learn a great deal about each other and/or about other people, by reading each other’s
Where I’m From poems. There are many ways students can share their work:
• Students can share them in pairs or small groups.
• Students could read their poems to the whole class. Each reader could be assigned a
“responder. After the poem is read aloud, the responder would comment about something
RELATIONSHIPS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
he or she heard that was particularly interesting or surprising.
• Students can read them as a pass-around. First, have students pass their poems to their
neighbor. Give time for a thorough reading. Have students silently write comments or
questions in the margin. Every 3-5 minutes have students pass the poems on to the next
person. Repeat as time allows. At the end, students should have a poem lled
with comments and questions.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
1. What does it mean to be from a place? Is a place always a physical location or could it
be something else? Can people be from a “place that is not an actual location, but repre-
sents a community or an idea—such as being from a family, a religious tradition or a
strong interest?
2. Is it possible to be from more than one place? How might our identity change depend
ing on where we are?
3. How is identity aected when we move from one place to another? What might stay the
same? What might change?
Journal Prompt: How does where I am from inuence who I am?
RELATIONSHIPS WEEK TWO
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
FIRST ACTIVITY
SECOND ACTIVITY
CLOSE
FIRST ACTIVITY OF THE WEEK
Name of Activity: ACT LIKE A MAN/ACT LIKE A LADY DISCUSSION
Materials Needed: None
Length of Activity: 10 minutes
Description of Activity: Consider your own background and the lessons about gender roles you re-
ceived as a child. Share a few examples with the participants. What does it mean to be a man? What
does it mean to be a woman? Share with students what it meant to you when you were a youngster.
Share what it means to you now and why.
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To explore
the impact of gender roles
and stereotypes
RELATIONSHIPS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
Guided Group Discussion Questions
1. Are there times when it is hard or confusing to be a young man or young woman?
2. Do you think gender roles are fair? Why or why not?
SECOND ACTIVITY OF THE WEEK
Name of Activity: IF YOU REALLY KNEW ME
Materials Needed: None
Length of Activity: Remainder of session
Description of Activity: The instruction is simple, but will likely require a few examples from the
adults to help participants get started sharing. Separate students into two single-gender groups
and have them sit in a circle, close to one another. Start a sentence with the prompt, “If you really
knew me, you would know…. As facilitators and mentors, you should volunteer one or two exam-
ples. Let them know they have 15 minutes to complete the activity. Ask everyone to share at least
one statement. Remind students that this has become an ever-more judgmental society, and that
resulting mean-spiritedness among young people is given a space to live and grow in social media
where it can cause real hurt, pain and loss of life, even. Also remind them that what others think of
us is none of our business. We cannot change how others think and behave. What we think about
ourselves is what really matters. Sharing with trusted ones from the depths of our hearts frees and
heals us and creates intimacy, as others open up and trust us with their own secrets and truths. Trust
is primary in all relationships. Building it takes time—especially for children whose primary caregiv-
ers may have shattered their trust of others.
Journal Prompt: Is it hard for you to share personal insights in a group? Why or why not?
RELATIONSHIPS WEEK THREE: REAL LOVE
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
JOURNAL PROMPT
Name of Activity: WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Materials Needed: Flip charts and markers
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Ask students for examples of some of the words they have heard used
for females. Remind students that there are no penalties for being honest. Encourage them to
participate and challenge them to come up with more examples if needed. Invite their forthright-
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To practice sharing
and listening to self truths.
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To have students examine the harsh,
negative language of modern youth culture
and consider how it may impact the
relationships that mean the most to us.
RELATIONSHIPS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
ness. Give no further instruction or explanation. In this activity, more often than not, the majority of
names they’ve heard used are mean and negative. After you nish with women, repeat the activity
focused on terms for men.
After the names are shared and written down, ask students to explain why they think so many of
the names are negative. Share with them shifts you’ve seen in slang terms for women and men in
your lifetime. Ask them how many of them use these negative names to describe themselves or
people of their own gender and why they think that is so.
Finally, ask students to go around and call out, popcorn-style, one word they would love to perma-
nently erase. If theres one word that is stated over and over, can the Circle make a group agree-
ment not to use it anymore and to check each other from this moment forward? If there’s not a
collective word, each student should pick the one they individually will no longer use and select a
buddy to check them if they do.
Journal Prompt: Think about someone who really loves you. What are their nicknames for you?
Make a list of what words and names make you feel good about yourself.
SPIRITUALITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
AKOBENWTHE SYMBOL OF VIGILANCE AND WARINESS
MEDIA WATCH
The medias the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power
to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and thats
power. Because they control the minds of the masses. —Malcolm X
I
t has been widely recognized that one of the most profound impacts on our children is their
incessant intake of the negative, violent and self-defeating images, messages and ideas they
are bombarded with by popular music and videos. Yet many of our attempts to combat these
ideas have been dismissed as censorship” or attempts to suppress the expression of our young.
During these sessions we are charged with helping our students develop one of the most power-
ful tools that will serve them lifelong—critical thinking. In our Media Watch segment, you will
invite them to explore for themselves the powerful linkages between what they consume and
how they feel about themselves and one another. The goal is to challenge them, engage them in
debating among themselves and instill in them a high regard for the power of personal choice,
as well as an understanding of medias power to shape peoples sense of self and also how we
see and treat one another. And all of this—some of the most important work to be done with our
young—must be delivered without judgment and condemnation, recognizing that rebellion is
a natural aspect of maturing, that our generations, too, had a music and style that most adults
rejected and that our role as adults is not to limit young peoples options, but to strengthen their
ability to make informed decisions.
In oering bold, unapologetic critiques of music that degrades women, movies that celebrate
murder and marketers that seek to prot from the fragile esteem of our children, our goal is to
empower our young by helping them to see beyond the beats, rhymes and style to the not-so-
subtle messages that contribute to the debasement of women and the female body and the abuse
that plagues womens lives. As we shine the light on how these ideas threaten womens very safety
and sanity, we move beyond the rhetorical debate and enlist young people in forcing a shift to the
positive in how young African Americans are portrayed by their local media and artists they have
come to love. The point should be made that most people in our society believe what the media
say about young Black people—that they are inarticulate, violent and criminal, thugs who dress like
fools, and a menace to society that should be removed. Make the point that the nation would never
allow millions of White children to be unfairly snatched out of their communities and sent into a
prot-making prison system.
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORSWELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
MEDIA WATCH
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: WHAT THEY SHOW, WHAT WE KNOW
Materials Needed: Markers and a board, or butcher paper
that sticks to
the wall, for the breakout group brainstorms.
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Show Tom Burrell’s Resolution Project video. Invite students to brainstorm
about images of African-Americans they’ve observed in the media. After 20 minutes, ask your par-
ticipants to select the top three toxic messages they’ve received. Divide the class into three break-
out circles, assign each group a toxic message and ask them to refashion it into a positive message
that shows the truth about us. Each circle will share their re-creation with the entire class. Write
these messages on the butcher paper.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
1. What is media?
2. How does the media depict us?
3. To what degree are the depictions true?
4. To what degree do we participate in creating messages and images that portray us nega
tively?
5. What is the truth about us, and what messages would you send if you had/when you
have the power to do so?
6. What can we do to change the negative messages in the media about and to young
African Americans?
Journal Prompt: Is it easier to disrespect and abuse people whom we label with derogatory names
like nigga, bitch and fag? How does it feel when you or someone you love is labeled?
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To identify and examine
messages we receive from
the media about
African Americans
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORSWELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
ANANSE NTONTANWTHE SYMBOL OF WISDOM AND CREATIVITY
CREATIVITY
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
—Dr. Maya Angelou
W
ho can do it better than us? In every aspect of art and culture, Black people have
contributed to some of the greatest oerings of humankind. In these sessions, we
celebrate self-expression and elevate for our students the important dierence
between the goals of art and entertainment. Our creativity—whether it was Michael
Jacksons Moonwalk or Jay Z’s ability to tell stories, whether it was Carvers use of the peanut or
Madam C.J. Walkers way with hair—our ability to make up what we were never meant to know
has always been our walk, dance, song, speech or march into freedom. That power to create
ourselves with little assistance or encouragement from others is who we are. This session is
designed to encourage young people to imagine themselves using all their gifts and power and
in ways they may never have envisioned before, and to use their creativity to gure out how they
will discover their purpose and become who life needs and intends them to be. Explain that this
is a lifelong exercise as our goals and purpose shift as we grow older, wiser and more and more
condent and competent. Let them know that we are born to utilize our innate creative intel-
ligence to shape a better world. To bring peace and love into practice—this is the real purpose of
art. Students should come back to these pages in their notebooks repeatedly with new ideas for
shaping their lives, reaching their goals, renewing their communities and shaping a new world.
Ask that they keep a list of what they must do and forego doing to achieve their dreams, and that
they try to make a habit of checking in with themselves and reviewing their list each day, which
will keep them on course.
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: VISION BOARD
Materials Needed: Magazines, glue sticks, markers and tape
Length of Activity: Entire session
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To support students in setting
specic goals for themselves
and visualizing positive
outcomes in their lives
CREATIVITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
Description of Activity: As an introduction, remind students of their experiments with the power
of thought during the session on faith. Encourage students to use the power of their thoughts
and their creative imagination to design their lives. Tell students to imagine their own present
and future success. What do they want to achieve? Explain that a vision board is simply a tool that
will help them focus on their goals, keep them top of mind and achieve them. Invite students to
think about all they have learned this year and to think not just about material wealth, but about
what will really nourish their lives and bring them peace and happiness. Remind them that the
question to ask and answer for themselves is not what will I get, but what will I give? Giving to life
and to others from our overow gives our lives meaning, nourishes the soul and creates profound
joy. Nothing else satises for long. And when we live for the betterment of life, our people and
community, the Holy Spirit places in our hands all that we need—the people and resources—to
succeed. This is the secret elixir that too few people trust and practice. Suggest they nd inspi-
rational words and phrases to help them remember what matters most in life and what is para-
mount to them. Invite the children to mix and mingle words and pictures and or armations for
a vision of success that depicts their personal goals and the world they want to create. The vision
boards are their reminder that their best is yet to come. They are intended to support students
and inspire them to have faith in themselves and the courage to achieve their dreams. Encourage
them to complete the project within the time given, rather than taking home an unnished vision
board. Tell them they have 25 minutes to work on their board before they need to begin clean up.
Remind them when they have 10 minutes remaining.
Journal Prompt: Where do you see yourself in ve years? In 10?
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORSWELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
BESASAKAWTHE SYMBOL OF UNITY AND ABUNDANCE
PROSPERITY
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.
—Dr. Maya Angelou
H
aving a personal denition of prosperity and the necessary education and support to
pursue it are essential to personal growth. Too often, we fail to educate our young about
the core values they need to stay sane in an increasingly commercialized world. Helping
them understand the dierence between collecting a paycheck and building wealth, the
relationship of education to upward mobility and the intentional aggrandizement of consumer-
ism is a key component of any comprehensive youth-education program.
By helping youngsters learn that money does not bring people peace or happiness and encourag-
ing them to examine their values about money, we begin to break the stranglehold of overspend-
ing and doing whatever it takes to get paid. This chapter is created to instill in our children that they
can develop the skills needed to generate, retain and build wealth by pursuing an education and
following their passions, and by working hard and thinking critically about what they invest their
precious time and resources in. Here we want to encourage students to not spend frivolously, but
rather to make saving a habit and, no matter what their career path, to also have some entrepre-
neurial pursuit.
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
JOURNAL PROMPT
Name of Activity: BALLERS VS. SHOT CALLERS
Materials Needed: White board or chart pad and easel and markers
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Write the words “Baller and “Shot Caller on opposite sides of the Board
and ask what they mean. Know, but don’t say, that ballers are spenders. They are brand conscious
and focused on impressing others. They buy all sorts of things that most people covet—clothes,
jewelry, cars—and they drop big money in clubs and for the best seats in the house. Shot callers are
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To stimulate critical
thinking about
consumerism vs. ownership
entrepreneurs and property owners. They invest their money in things that grow in value and are
the ones ballers have to go to purchase what they want.
In this exercise, remind students that there are no right or wrong answers. Reect on the increas-
ing popularity in the media of celebrities, reality-TV stars, athletes and entertainers. Ask students
to describe the qualities of a baller. Here, ask young people to call out names of people who seem
to be spending lots of money but not saving or building. Allen Iverson, for example, after all of the
millions hes made in the last few years, is broke now. Next, ask them to brainstorm qualities of Shot
Callers. Have ready examples like Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith or local business and civic leaders like
Chicagos John Rogers, who founded Ariel Capital Management, the largest Black-owned invest-
ment-banking and money-management rm in the nation. Draw attention to behind-the-scenes
gures in entertainment and sports like agents, owners, managers and attorneys.
Once the brainstorm is complete, ask students how many of them have been tricked into trying
to be ballers? Ask how much sneakers cost to make. The big brands are foreign made and cost
manufacturers only a few dollars a pair. Ask how many have ever spent more than $50 on sneak-
ers, or more than $100. Cite examples of how students commonly tease each other for not having
expensive brands and are often willing to pester their parents or even commit a crime to purchase
popular sneakers. Extend examples to jackets, jeans, purses, shoes, weaves and accessories. Invite
students to discuss parallels. Why do they want expensive items? What kind of clothes does Bill
Gates wear? Why? Why does Warren Buet live in his old house? How do marketers manipulate
people to buy what they don’t really need, things that add no lasting pleasure or any value to their
lives? What techniques do they use?
Journal Prompt: Does everything that gets me attention get me respect?
PROSPERITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
NKONSONKONSONWTHE SYMBOL OF UNITY AND HUMAN RELATIONS
COMMUNITY
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single
garment of destiny. Whatever aects one directly, aects all indirectly.
—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
C
ommunity has traditionally been the chief value for people of African descent. From
the beginning of time itself, our ability to move as a collective has been our greatest
triumph. Everywhere we have stumbled harks back to a lack of unity, harmony and an
agreed-upon plan. The training you have delivered is designed to assist Rising students
in learning to love and value themselves and form authentic relationships with each other. These
are the building blocks of happiness, connection and community. You are encouraging our young
to become stewards of their environment, take ownership of their school and neighborhood and
have pride in themselves, our heritage and one another. Through videos, online searches and, if
possible, a community eld trip, invite our children to consider the world around them and what
role they will play in improving it.
Here we ask that you share triumphs and challenges faced by youth movements around the world,
from Soweto to Oakland, and over the course of three weeks, encourage them to use their critical
thinking skills to identify, research and develop solutions to address a problem in their community.
COMMUNITY WEEK ONE
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: COMMUNITY POEM
Materials Needed: An 11x17 sheet of paper and
a pen or pencil
Length of Activity: The poem should be treated as an
activity in progress over the course of the session. Take no more than ve minutes at the beginning
of the meeting to explain the process to the group. Allot ve minutes at the very end of the meet-
ing for a participant to read the poem aloud to the group.
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
This is meant to be a fun
opening exercise that
establishes equal validity
of voice and creates unity
within the Circle.
COMMUNITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
Description of Activity: Begin by explaining the community poem process. Pick a Circle partici-
pant, give the student the paper and a writing utensil and ask the student to write the rst two
lines of a poem. The lines should be about the wellness of our people and community. After writing
the lines, the participant should fold the sheet of paper so that only the second sentence is visible.
For example, if the student has written something like, “I say promise where others say perish/I see
hope where others see hell, the following Circle participant would only be able to read, “I see hope
where others see hell. When the next participant receives the poem-in-progress, he or she contrib-
utes the next line. The poem will circulate until every Circle participant has written two lines. At the
end of the exercise, unfold the sheet of paper and select someone to read the collective contribu-
tion aloud—as a single poem.
COMMUNITY WEEK TWO
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: FOR THIS IS OUR HOME
Materials Needed: The poem from the last session,
Descriptions of Youth-Led Actions for Change, pencils and paper
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Introduce today’s activity by reading the poem written in community at
the last session. The following steps will help you to guide the students through the activity and
ensure that the group stays on track to complete the assigned tasks.
Assemble the students into three circles.
Ask each group to name its team and assign a Team Leader and a Note Taker to write
down answers.
Each group will read an article about a youth-directed service project and is responsible
for guiding the circle in answering the assigned questions on paper.
1. What was the project?
2. Why did they decide to work on it?
3. What did it change in the community?
4. What resources did the project require?
5. Why was the project successful?
After the teams have completed the activity, direct students to come back together as a
large group to begin reporting back and the guided discussion.
Teams will report back by answering the assigned questions within the large group.
Ask Team Leaders to facilitate their teams portion of the report back by elding
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To introduce students to
successful youth-led models
for community problem-
solving and inspire
them to claim and uplift
their own community
(school or neighborhood)
COMMUNITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
questions if they arise.
This is also a time to check in with the teams about their experience working together to
complete the assignment. Close each teams presentation with the guided questions to
prompt the giving and receiving of supportive feedback.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
1. What inspired you the most today about what you learned?
2. What would you most like to change in your community?
Journal Prompt: If I had the power to change just one thing that impacts my community,
it would be___________.
COMMUNITY WEEK THREE
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: SERVICE BRAINSTORM
Materials Needed: White board and markers
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Ask students for some ideas of service projects they would like to plan
to implement in their school community. Tell them there are no right or wrong answers when
brainstorming and that later you will evaluate for feasibility. Brainstorm ideas for 5-7 minutes. Now
ask students to look at the list and decide which are the most important and which are the most
feasible. Vote to choose the two best project ideas.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
1. What important contribution do you want to make to this community? Why?
2. Do you have any ideas for how we can make our work fun?
3. What do you think it will take to accomplish our goals?
4. How do you think the community will receive our service project?
5. How do you feel about getting started?
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To guide students in
determining a collective
plan to give back to
their community
COMMUNITY
WELLNESS MENTORING CIRCLES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE•THE GUIDE FOR FACILITATORS AND MENTORS
COMMUNITY WEEK FOUR
AGENDA
WELCOME AND REVIEW OF COVENANTS
ACTIVITY
CLOSE
Name of Activity: Our Community, Ourselves
Materials Needed: Flip chart and markers
Length of Activity: Entire session
Description of Activity: Identify three or four subgroup areas for planning teams, e.g., resources
needed, marketing/recruiting, communication, logistics and implementation plan. Have students
join one team and brainstorm and vote on top strategies/ideas and report back to the whole
group. Oer leadership opportunities for those who are ready or volunteer. Leave time for ques-
tions/feedback for each team.
Guided Group Discussion Questions
1. What are you naturally good at doing that would be helpful to the team?
2. What contributions are you excited to make to the team you’ve chosen?
3. Are you ready to step into a leadership role? Why or why not?
Journal Prompt: I am an agent for positive change because______________.
GOAL OF THE ACTIVITY
To develop roles,
benchmarks and outcomes
of the student-determined
service plan