Youth in general today face numerous challenges – both personal and professional – including changing education systems, high levels of competition both academic and work-wise, high expectations from family and employers and peer pressure, to name a few. Youth from disadvantaged or marginalized communities lack the opportunities or have little access to a good education, thereby denying their access to sustainable employment and fair wages. Peer pressure, unfulfilled expectations and unemployment leads to frustration, anger and violence against self or others. A number of youth get into substance addiction or crime due to lack of support or guidance.
As APSA works with youth from urban slum communities and has decades of grassroots’ experiences in dealing with youth from various backgrounds, the organization felt the need for developing a comprehensive, focussed program that would enable disadvantaged youth develop the skills required to prepare themselves for personal and professional life.
Thus, the Lifeskills project was conceived and seeks to equip young people with lifeskills education with the objective of enabling youth address personal and professional challenges that might arise during the course of their development from young person to adult. APSA’s Lifeskills program has been specially designed and developed by the organization in collaboration with International Youth Foundation, USA and Youth Reach, India.
The goal of the Lifeskills program is to:
At APSA, youth who enrol for vocational training in Computers, Electronics, Tailoring and Beauty Care courses at the Kaushalya Skill Training Centre also undergo lifeskills education as part of the regular course curriculum. Lifeskills education is also imparted to young working women residing at Navajeevana Nilaya. Children of the 7th and 10th standards and students enrolled under the National Child Labour Project at the Dream School also attend lifeskills classes.
The YES project is a three-pronged approach addressing the following components:
Awareness sessions on alcohol and drug abuse and prevention are integrated into the lifeskills education component. Topics include awareness on hero worship, influence of various media on lifestyles, culture and peer pressure and alcohol or substance abuse, prevention of alcohol and drug abuse and supportive systems for prevention.
Teaching methods are creative and participatory and include activities such as small and large group discussions, lectures, demonstrations, games, skits, role-plays, individual work, etc.
As part of practical training, youth and adolescents undergoing lifeskills training are attached to volunteer with APSA’s community-based projects, providing real-life opportunities of linking theoretical training inputs with experience of actual realities.
• Sex and gender (differences) and importance of gender sensitivity
• Understanding good health and impact of ill-health
• Understanding adolescence and changes during adolescence (physical/ emotional/ social/ intellectual/ biological)
• Infatuation (reasons, consequences) and life priorities
• Sexual abuse and misuse (symptoms, problems, dealing with abuse, supportive legal structures (POCSO Act)
• Trafficking (meaning, type, reasons, legal structures for prevention of trafficking)
Annually, around 500 youth and adolescents in APSA institutions are imparted lifeskills education.
APSA’s Lifeskills modules can also be used by other organizations and agencies working with children and young, at-risk groups as part of preventive health programs through a Training of Trainer’s (ToT) course. APSA has trained organizations such as Enfold, Milana and Spastics Society of Karnataka to use lifeskills modules. In 2013 alone, APSA has trained almost 200 personnel and NGO staff (one third of them women) in lifeskills, child rights and child protection structures.