“The program is for teens to know how to deal with life and how to solve problems, and how to deal with other people. We teach them a lot of things,” Safa’ says. “They learn with us and talk about different subjects or things. They just know how to talk with each other and not be shy in front of someone they don’t know.” Safa’ has just concluded her second lesson volunteering as a Teen Leader, and she grins as she watches her students file out of the classroom. “We are the same age, so hopefully I can talk to them or understand them.”

CRP’s Education Specialist, Karam, developed the Teen Leadership Training Program last year. The course aims to promote teen leadership, provide spaces for teens to act as mentors to younger children, and take responsibility in their community. The first iteration of the program lasted for six months, and each session focused on a different topic, which Karam chose. “I developed the curriculum focusing on awareness, setting objectives, teamwork, conflict resolution, and leadership,” she says.

Safa’ (right) and her peer after leading a Teen Leadership Training Program session.

At the end of the six months, Karam chose a handful of teens to continue practicing their skills as assistants in the next term of the Training Program. Safa’’s eyes light up as she describes how it felt to be asked to lead. “I love to be a volunteer for things like this and come to do things that I don’t do at home,” she says. “It’s exciting to be able to do more things. Karam told me about this, and I of course said yes.”

Last Thursday afternoon Safa’ stood confidently in front of 10 students and passionately presented a lesson focused on the intersections of gender and violence. Sessions centered around topics like these not only allow Safa’ to practice her communication skills, but also create spaces where she can talk about her passions with her peers. “Everyone is equal, no matter if they are male or female,” Safa’ affirmed. “I want to be a detective. I said, ‘I want to join the army,’ and all of the people tell me that it is for guys or men. I just say, ‘no, it’s my dream and I want to do this. It’s my life, not yours to tell me what to do.’”  Topics such as this reinforce lessons teens learn in another CRP program, Life Skills, our Gender-Based Violence Awareness class for teens.

Other topics in future sessions of the Training Program will include decision making, rights and responsibilities, conflict resolution, and active listening.

Karam credits the success of the Teen Leader Training Program to enthusiastic participants like Safa’, and is hopeful about its ongoing sustainability. “The teens who have been trained are also working in the summer camp, and the childcare, so this is the point,” she says with a proud smile. “If any of us [staff members] leave, these are the people who live in the community, so they will be able to sustain these programs for a long time.”

Thanks to Rotary for generously supporting this program!