I have been on the team as a Youth Development Worker for nearly a year now. I have seen a whole academic year of sessions in the three schools and interacted with hundreds of young people in those classes. What a privilege to be able to give those young people an opportunity to talk about stuff that they might not get to elsewhere. This feels especially important in the light of growing mental health awareness and the importance of sharing and processing things (#ItsOkNotToBeOk , #selfawareness etc.).
The 2018/19 academic year has brought lots of sessions with young people reviewing relationships and covering subjects like consent, inclusion, prevention from harm and friendships.
Our work with S2 pupils (12-14) on Positive Relationships is very rewarding. Reminding young people that they have power to make their own decisions regarding what kind of friend they are and even who they have relationships with. Our discussions around peer pressure are brilliant, and we have had significant moments of telling young people that if friends force you to do something that you don’t want to do, they are not real friends!
Particularly interesting has been our inclusion of Social Media exercises, reflecting on the good and bad influence this has on young people. It often is not effective to lecture them of the negative impact, but to encourage them to look back on what they have learnt either personally or anecdotally.
Our S4 sessions on Pornography are welcomed by Guidance Teachers, pornography is a subject that is not often covered during PSE in schools, but comes up often in pastoral work. Especially our discussions around pornography’s impact on people’s perceptions of sexual relationships. Sadly in our day and age, many young people (whether intentionally or not) base their understanding of sexual relationships i.e. what is normal/what is wanted, on what they have seen in pornographic material. Sessions which encourage those young people to separate ‘pornography’ and ‘real life’ will hopefully result in healthier relationships, improved self-confidence and self-image.
And that is what we want to see at Choices Aberdeen. Generations of young people experiencing healthy relationships, both with those around them and with their own bodies.
Benjamin Clift, Youth Development Worker, Choices Aberdeen