Life skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individual to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. They are activities which promote mental well being and competence among young people as they face the realities of life; based on World Health Organization (WHO, 1993) philosophy that young people should be qualitatively empowered to take responsibility for their action.
Life skills education is an effective tool for empowering the young people to act responsibly, take initiative and have control over stress and emotion. Since when they are able to rise above emotional impasses arising from daily conflicts, entangled relationships and peer pressure, they are less likely to resort to anti social or high risk behaviors like alcoholism, drug abuse and casual relationships
Today’s youth although not lacking in knowledge, they find it difficult to face life challenges. Education has not been able prepare learners to fight frustration, anxiety and depression; but has put emphasis in class achievement and performance which is highly appreciated by the teachers and parents. To meet the family and society expectations, the children are stretched beyond the customary and when the pressure of subscribing to high expectations gets overwhelming, they fall back to antisocial behaviors for compensation.
Life skills include psychosocial competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships and cope while managing their lives in a healthy and productive manner
HOW DO WE TRAIN FOR LIFE SKILLS
To ensure that the young person is well equipped with enough physical, mental and emotional tools to handle the life challenges in the contemporary environment, we use a number of techniques to reach their thinking, influence the way they interpret situations and impact their actions, in a supportive learning environment. These techniques include:
Brain Storming: Students actively generate variety of ideas about a particular topic or question quickly and spontaneously, then they are guided in analyzing each and every idea, to indentify its possible outcome
Story Telling: Here, a moderator reads/tells the young people a story , then they are motivated to think critically about the issues like, health, cleanliness, drug addiction, creativity, obedience, bad company, or any other as may be brought out through the story to help impact skills necessary for independent thinking free from pear influence
Debates: A definite problem or issue is presented to the participant and they must take a position on resolving the problem or issue. This helps the trainer understand each participants tendencies hence help them acquire skills necessary to change and improve on their actions
Discussion: Discussion helps the participant deepen their understanding about the content and provide opportunities to learn from one another.
Role playing: It provides an excellent opportunity for developing various life skills especially empathy as each plays the role of other person and creates insight into one’s own feeling.
Buzz Group: participants are divided into groups to carry out a task. This helps them know each other better, learn to help their peers, learn new skills and build the skills bank from each other .
Games: We use activities to promote learning skills like cleaning, cooking, decision making, discussion, fun, healthy competition, knowledge use, attitude and skills.
Situation Analysis: It provides opportunities to work hard, share feelings and develop critical thinking as participants are allowed to explore problems and safely test solutions
Peer supported learning: The learners are grouped according to their varying skills and give tasks to accomplish. This ensures each learner contributes to the achievement and each teaches the other.
practical community development projects: Learners are given a chance to participate or indemnify and accomplish a project for the community based on their skills and creativity
Audio-visual activities: we use pictorial and sound system to help learners see and hear how others apply different life skills in their day to day social interactions
DOMAINS OF LIFE SKILLS
Life skills are behaviors that enable individuals to adapt and deal effectively with the demands and challenges of life. Life skills training target is to impact these domains in order to have a holistic young person. Our aim is to identify skills to each learner, interpret them and help learners achieve the skills as we reinforce them where they already exist. There are many such skills, but 10 core life skills are laid down by WHO are:
Self-awareness: Includes recognition of ‘self’, our character, our strengths and weaknesses, desires and dislikes, which can help us to recognize when we are stressed or feel under pressure to do or not to do something.
Empathy: To understand and care about other people needs desires and feelings. It enables us to imagine what life is like for another person and help us accept others with their differences and enables social interactions in ethnic and cultural diversity situations.
Critical thinking: It is the ability to analyze information and experiences objectively, which contributes to health by helping us recognize and assess behavior, influencing factors like attitudes, values, peer pressure and the media.
Creative thinking: It is the way of seeing or doing things based on four components; fluency- how we generating new ideas, flexibility- how we easily shift, originality-ability to conceiving of something new, and elaboration-how build on other ideas.
Decision making: It helps us to deal constructively with decisions about our lives by teaching participant how to actively make decisions about their actions in relation to healthy assessment of different options and likely effects of different decisions.
Problem solving: How to constructively deal with problems in our lives. We train them to be solution oriented
Interpersonal relationship: Help participant relate positively with others including being able to make and keep friendly and healthy relationships for mental and social well-being and ability to maintain good relationship with family members, as well as being able to end toxic relationships constructively
Effective communication: We equip the youngsters with ability to express their opinions, desires, needs and fears both verbally and non-verbally, in ways that are appropriate to our cultures and situations as well as being able to ask for help.
Coping with stress: It is aimed at overcoming Wrong beliefs like “I’m not good enough” or “Something is wrong with me” and discovering how unconscious physical, mental and emotional habits create stress, aging, addiction and diseases, through awareness and simple lifestyle changes to reclaim youthful vitality, joy and well being.
Coping with Emotions: We develop the awareness in our youths that their feelings determine our health and eliminate negative thinking for their well being. When we are feeling fearful, angry, or depressed it is a sure sign that our thoughts have become negative and dysfunctional.