PCV Project: Pinto para Aprender

In Peace Corps we give a lot of charlas: charlas about teaching strategies, charlas about how to start a business, charlas about how to use a condon, charlas about how to give good charlas, but we all know this isn’t the only way to share information or explore a topic with a group of people. In this blog post we’ll share details about three health volunteers that used art and creative expression to engage girls and boys in topics of sexual health, healthy relationships, and positive lifestyles.

What happened and with whom:

PCVs Talia (HE 58, Estelí), Natalie (HE 58, Rio San Juan), and Tessa (MCH 55, Rio San Juan) collaborated to develop the project “Yo Pinto Para Aprender” with the objective of educating, empowering, and inspiring adolescent girls to lead healthy and meaningful lives through the medium of artistic expression. In the respective communities the volunteers created groups of 12 girls between the ages of 13 and 17 who attended 11 workshops over the course of 2 months concerning topics of sexual and reproductive health. Following each session, the youth groups received instructions on painting techniques from a local artist to aid them in creating a piece of art that expressed what they had learned.

About what:

Workshops were largely drawn from the Tú, tu vida y tus sueños manual, with supporting activities from Yo Merezco. Topics covered include:
–>La adolescencia: grandes cambios, grandes desafíos
–>Cambio de nuestro cuerpo
–>El cuidado de la salud emocional
–>Buenas relaciones con madres y padres
–>La amistad y el amor
–>El sexo, la sexualidad y las relaciones sexuales
–>Salud sexual: prevención del VIH y ITS
–>El sexo seguro
–>Prevención de la violencia sexual
–>El abuso de drogas y alcohol
–>Realizar nuestros sueños

With what funding or support:

The group in RSJ worked with a local art NGO, while the group in the department of Estelí worked with a community psychologist and local artist to facilitate the workshops. The project was supported by Nicaraguan Country Funds (an application process similar to a PCPP) as well as in kind donations from NGOs in San Carlos and Estelí city.

Results and reflection:

At the culmination of the eleven sessions, the youth group in San Carlos instructed a group of adolescent boys that was modeled after the instruction the girls had received, giving them the opportunity to use their acquired knowledge to educate adolescent boys on selected healthy lifestyle themes and painting skills. The group of adolescent boys had the ability to create a painting that visually communicated their understanding of pertinent issues affecting youth in their communities. Additionally, it provided the girls with the opportunity to teach their male peers to act as an empowering tool to break through the gender discriminatory attitudes permeating society. This session also facilitated an art exchange between the two youth groups, where the San Carlos youth viewed artistic perspectives on adolescent health from the youth in Pueblo Nuevo.
Overall, the project was extremely successful because it gave the participants the opportunity to express themselves through a creative outlet while also empowering them to lead healthy lives.
The girls within the communities have expressed strong interest in continuing to advance their painting skills, which will aid in expanding their horizons and potential to lead progressive lives. Additionally, the participating community counterparts also gained valuable project-planning skills while helping to design and implement this project. Through participating in art and health education, all counterparts exchanged valuable information and gained innovative education techniques that may be outside of their field of work.
The most rewarding part of this experience was working with the girls and watching them grow in their artistic expression.
Initially the girls were extremely shy about painting in front of their peers. It took a few sessions for them to become more comfortable with the idea of creating their own pieces in a space with others and to form ideas from their imaginations and rather from an exact image to copy.
It was inspiring to see their transformation and made brought upon the realization that potential exists everywhere, and it’s the opportunity that must be presented in order to tap into one’s natural aptitudes.    

Suggestions for other looking to do the something similar:

*** Collaborate with an NGO if at all possible to ensure potential institutional support (i.e. a space to hold the sessions and reliable counterparts).
*** A group no larger than 8-10 girls is recommendable as the small group settings allowed for more intimate reflection and sharing.
*** Funding was mainly important of for the purchasing of the paint and painting tools. However, if you have strong institutional support in your site, applying for funding may not be necessary as it is a pretty low cost project (under $300 for both groups).

About Tú, tu vida, y tus sueños

Put together by Family Care International, the spanish version of Tú, tu vida y tus sueños is another resource for reaching out to young people about their personal health and relationships. Over the course of the 15 chapters, the manual focuses on 3 overarching themes: 1) our bodies, how they change and develop, and how to care for them; 2) emotional health, self-esteem and relationships with others, and 3) sexual and reproductive health.
The manual is divided into two parts:
Tú, tu vida y tus sueños: Part 1
(Ch 1: La adolescencia: grandes cambios, grandes desafíos // Ch 2: El cambio de nuestro cuerpo // Ch 3: El cuerpo de los chicos // Ch 4: El cuerpo de las chicas // Ch 5: Los cuidados básicos de cuerpo // Ch 6: El cuidado de la salud emocional // Ch 7: Una buena relación con nuestros padres y madres)
(Ch 8: La amistad y el amor // Ch 9: El sexo, la sexualidad, y las relaciones sexuales // Ch 10: Cuidar tu salud sexual: prevención del VIH y otras ITS // Ch 11: El embarazo // Ch 12: El sexo seguro // Ch 13: La violencia y la prevención de la violencia sexual // Ch 14: El abuso de drogas y alcohol // Ch 15: Realizar nuestros sueños) 

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