Youth Grow Wings Through Self Acceptance

Jenna Waite is a Guidance Counselor at Ferncourt High School in Claremont, Saint Anne, Jamaica. She took part in the One Love Youth Camp in Jamaica in 2016 and 2017, and the Oregon-based Culture Jam camp in 2017. Jenna shares her reflections with us below.

My experience with the Creative Empowerment model began with a three-day Creative Facilitation training in preparation for the One Love Youth Camp. We developed such the strong bond of community among the staff team. I was surprised by the intense joy I experienced from participating in the activities, and this joy gave me the confidence to share the activities I learned with the camp participants.

I witnessed closed, scared, and shy students transform into friendly, confident risk takers over the course of the camp.

The community building games and creative workshops helped to build a sense of safety and acceptance. This combined with the warm and comfortable environment at the camp site made for a real group bonding experience. Students used dub poetry, singing, drumming, and dancing to create an electric Music and Dance evening. They really opened up to each other and the facilitators and I believe to themselves. I witnessed closed, scared, and shy students transform into friendly, confident risk takers over the course of the camp.

Mrs. Roxanne Williams, the principal at the Bob Marley Primary and Junior High School, told me that as a result of going to the camp her students became more sociable and more willing to get involved in school activities.

Campers “agree” to a set of community agreements they have co-created to insure a safe environment where they can take creative risks. Photo credit: Ella Cooper.

All these lessons were put to the test as I became a lead facilitator at the One Love Youth Camp in 2017. It was a joy to once again watch the transformations among the participants and the facilitators.

When I took the second level of Creative Facilitation training I learned so much about how to conduct workshops, lead activities, and create the right environment for participants to have a fulfilling camp experience. I learned so much about myself, about working with other facilitators and how to respond to participants’ needs. It was fantastic!

As soon as the students recognize that they can indeed “be their true selves” they take on wings and it is magic to watch.

Later that summer I traveled to Oregon to be at the Culture Jam Camp. In this new setting I gained a whole new perspective on the Creative Empowerment Model and opened my eyes to many more ways I can engage youth all over the world. As I sat in a youth-led workshop on slangs across the world. I mused about how many different cultures were in this one place. As we shared and explored we learned more about ourselves and others, and that changed me for the better.

Participants create poetry in Jenna’s workshop at Culture Jam Camp. Photo credit: Jenna Waite.

The environment at Culture Jam was mindblowingly peaceful, the youth were astounding, and the staff were all amazing. I see myself expanding and growing in this model, and I never want to stop experiencing these camps.

Beyond Camp

Beyond camp, my Creative Facilitation training has helped my work as a school counselor. I frequently encounter students trapped in a culture of shyness, low esteem, and fear of self-exploration. This is compounded by an environment that fosters children’s silence and offers little opportunity to participate. As soon as the students recognize that they can indeed “be their true selves” they take on wings and it is magic to watch.

Changing the energy of a session through the use of music and the arts gets my students more engaged and productive.

The Creative Facilitation tools I learned have helped me develop more diverse group counseling and lesson plans. Changing the energy of a session through the use of music and the arts gets my students more engaged and productive. My parenting workshops have become noticeably more exciting when I include fun games, goals and agreements, and opportunities for each person to participate.

Jenna dancing on stage with Andre Wilson

October 13, 2017
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October 2017

By: staff

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