LIFEbeat youth programmes and trainings cultivate the following qualities:
At LIFEbeat we use self-expression, affirmation and gratitude to build a culture of appreciation. Young people walk away believing in themselves and knowing that they matter.
Self-esteem is our self-worth. It influences how we value ourselves, how we perceive our value to others and our belief in our potential contributions to the wider world. Self-esteem affects our ability to trust and our relationships with others. It also affects our aspirations and approaches to learning and goal-setting. Indeed our self-esteem affects every area of our lives.
Young people navigate a vital developmental path throughout their teenage years, engaged in a process of discovering who they are. Their self-esteem is often dictated by variable factors outside of themselves in a competitive world: peer influences; the media; emergent sexuality and feelings of attractiveness; academic accomplishment at school and parental influences. These factors become dominant influences and can leave young people with feelings of low self-worth.
At LIFEbeat we adopt a culture of personal and inter-personal affirmation. Daily processes are used to establish feelings of self-value and staff are trained to engage daily in positive enquiry and affirmation of youth participants. Activities such as a daily gratitude circle ensure that the youth learn ways of expressing authentic peer- to -peer positive appreciation. The culture of “no put downs of self or others” is explicit and all members of the community learn to avoid negative criticism and judgement. The result is that youth participants grow to trust that they matter and to find ways to express themselves. Every voice is heard and celebrated and young people leave LIFEbeat with increased positive self-esteem and the tools to continue to build confidence and self-worth.
“After a week, you managed to do what I have been desperately trying to do, and that is for my daughter to KNOW her worth, so it is a very heartfelt thank you.” – Parent
At LIFEbeat young people engage in a journey of self-exploration. They walk away with an increase in emotional literacy and a deeper understanding of their own feelings and motivations.
Emotional literacy is the capability of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour, and to manage emotions to adapt to environments and to achieve one’s goals.
Many young people have little experience or teaching in emotional literacy at school or within family life. Children are taught from a very young age to prioritise their cognitive abilities and to evaluate and organise experience, rather than to be guided by their emotional, intuitive selves. This lack of mentoring often results in young people being motivated or victimised by their emotions without any understanding or sense of agency around their responses. Feelings of shame often accompany normal emotional responses to life experience which can leave young people compelled to hide their authentic selves and to feeling isolated.
At LIFEbeat every participant joins a small family group, which meets daily to engage in a deeper level of emotional exploration within a safe, intimate setting. Check-in practices in circle time ensure that each participant is encouraged to be conversant with their own inner emotional landscape and to find a language to begin to communicate authentically with others. Mindfulness practices support participants to access a centred, calm place within themselves, from where they can exercise more choice over their reactions to emotions and external stimuli. With permission to prioritise their feelings, and the encouragement to listen deeply to others from the heart, young people are able to develop a profound empathy for others, which transforms their judgement of and behaviour towards others and enriches their lives.
“When my son attended LIFEbeat, he was a balanced, articulate teen, enjoying school, with a small circle of friends. He was well-behaved and worked hard at school. However, LIFEbeat transformed him. He returned from the camp full of enthusiasm and wonder at the discoveries he had made about himself and others. LIFEbeat filled in an emotional gap in his heart and allowed him to express himself away from his family and usual peers, free from any pressure (real or felt). It was a very positive experience which remains with him today.” – Parent
At LIFEbeat, young people are empowered to create agreements which uphold the values and boundaries of the community. They discover responsible ways to communicate their views and ways of listening to others with trust and respect.
Social skills facilitate interaction and communication with others. Social conventions and relations are created, communicated, and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways. We live in a multi-cultural society, which includes many different social norms and often centres around projection and blame of “the other” who perhaps holds opposing views. Good, effective communication and listening skills are necessary ingredients of a society which is democratic and facilitates the health of both the individual and the group.
Many young people spend their time in worlds where they are prescribed a system of rules and regulations. Young people tend to be unfamiliar with taking responsibility for creating the boundaries within their families, schools and communities and to upholding and maintaining them. They may also have had very little adult intervention to refine communication and listening skills and to engage in dialogue and teamwork as a way of solving social problems.
At LIFEbeat our temporary communities bring together diverse groups of young people from many cultures and backgrounds. Our programmes are designed to foster communication and understanding within large and small groups to lessen divisions. We work with issues around boundaries, listening, authentic communication; dialogue and performance. We employ different structures and models of interaction where participants get to practice new communication skills. Every day a community meeting is held where individuals can voice concerns and suggestions for improving co-operation and communication. We use a democratic process of building group norms and agreements which provide the most facilitative conditions for community safety and cohesion. Deeper level group discussions and reflections are held to consolidate learning and to exchange different perspectives throughout the week.
“My son moved from being surly, uncommunicative and unresponsive to becoming effusive, inspired and also an amazing poet. It is clear to me that LIFEbeat camps have a transformative impact on young people” – Parent
At LIFEbeat young people learn to be flexible and improvisational. They are encouraged to make mistakes, to share their vulnerability, to take creative and emotional risks and to embrace their lives as important, journeys of unique potential.
Resilience is needed to navigate life. It is the capacity to make a mistake or to encounter a set- back and to get up and try again. It requires flexibility, inner strength and resource and the ability to embrace experience.
Many young people aged between 14-18 in the UK encounter hardships and losses in life, combined with many other challenges such as poverty, violence, negative peer pressure and fear as they go about their daily lives. Abuse of all kinds is a familiar story. All young people are under tremendous pressure to achieve and to navigate our changing and challenging world.
At LIFEbeat, we work to develop the self-esteem, emotional intelligence and social skills to build the basic resources needed for a resilient life. We work with creative processes, which present opportunities for emotional risk-taking and self-expression.
Young people are encouraged to make mistakes without fear of rejection or judgement. Within the safety of the group young people are able to share their vulnerability and to tell their personal stories and overcome challenges.
This level of authentic exchange builds inner strength and a confidence that there is heroism in the resilience of every person’s story and that it is by sharing hardship and encouraging our ability to overcome challenges that we build hope and aspiration in life. As a result of LIFEbeat, many young people recognise their own strengths and resources for the first time as they reveal and exchange personal life stories and embrace a vision for their futures.
“LIFEbeat is close to my heart because of the change and differences it has made in my life, letting me express who I am as a person and my emotions through creativity. It allows me to discover more about myself in a non-judgmental environment.” – Participant