YouthLink began the third week of September with the third Auroville Peer Education Training (APET) with almost a dozen youth from & around the bioregion. Just like for the second training, this time too, one of the previous participants of the course was empowered to co-facilitate the training alongside the lead facilitator & psychologist Juan Andreas Papagno!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with APET, it is a week-long training based on the YPEER methodology developed by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and locally adapted to meet Auroville’s needs. You can read about our previous trainings here, & here.
This programme seeks to build, in the long term, a positive peer network in a local region or community by empowering youth with proper tools and resources to address taboo topics faced by their own age groups such as drugs, depression, peer pressure & sexual health. Through a series of theatre-based exercises, interactive activities and honest discussions, the curriculum is designed to be experiential and personalised, allowing participants to take away learnings on any of the 3 following levels: personal, social or structural. This means that some focus on the introspective exercises, choosing to understand their own attitudes, stances or traumas in their lives. Others focus on the social aspect and look at ways they can try to share the proper resources and information received in this training to spread safe, healthy and non-judgemental support in their different social contexts. Finally, those who wish to be able to make structural changes by approaching social institutions such as schools and organisations to offer workshops on relevant topics, can avail of the rich body of tools and instructions that the YPEER methodology offers. They can also make use of the Auroville Peer Education Network (APEN), a network where participants who successfully completed the training are inducted into.
Something that was growing clearer through the expansion of the APEN, which crystallized during this training, is the need to open up spaces for open discussions and sharings on difficult, taboo topics before looking at providing resources and tools for focused interventions in these topics. Youth that are drawn to APET are those who are painfully aware of the huge silence that surrounds and suffocates such topics and therefore first feel a burning need to talk about these without misinformation and judgements confusing or shaming them.
As a result, our next mission as a network is to host internal and external open discussions on topics that are pressing for the youth today. As the network slowly builds (40 members!), it feels good to see APEN adapt & grow along with its members & trainings!