Our approach involves the whole community, where we help the youth build relationships with themselves, their peers, their families and the world. As a part of the process, we create a network of local experts; a community of mentors, youth and their families at each site, who can sustain this enabling environment and continue to foster the culture of encouragement.
The figure above portrays our framework on how we are able to achieve sustainable and cost effective behavior change, in a relatively short period of time. In our model we create the social architecture that enable a group to identify their priorities, and design and execute their own solutions.
Within a challenging environment, we identify host entity that has both trust and capacity to bring groups together, in this case groups of adolescents and/or youth.
In the orientation session with the teens, they self select to participate in the process – this self-selection is extremely important, especially for adolescents as it affirms that they do have a voice and choice. Giving them agency and the power to choose and buy in, is a critical step towards empowerment.
The group identifies their interests and also an issue that bothers them that as a group they would like to address. Then we begin the month long process, with a group of 30-50, where we meet for 2-3 hours daily over the course of the 30 days. The time frame is ideal in order to establish and internalize the core foundational skills that we work on. These skills include: effective communication – with groups and individuals; leadership – understand what your own skills sets and comparative advantages are; entrepreneurship – thinking innovatively, utilizing interests, to design compelling and effective social solutions.
The entire team working on the project is chosen by the host entity, which is also responsible for the budget. The host entity could choose to get a group of local and international staff/volunteers to make up the team. This ensures that the host has ownership of the project and that the capacity to run the project again stays with the host.
The youth participating also self identify into two groups, one that identifies activities throughout the 6 months/year to keep reminding them of what they created, which helps further cement the skills and habits learned; and the second that is in charge of helping create the next cohort of Look at Us. This model thus can be seen as a “graduation” gift for youth groups; a catalytic process to help them navigate through transitions from primary to secondary or secondary to tertiary etc.
Lastly the entire process and outputs are documented through stories utilizing various forms of social and traditional media. This helps ensure that youth have the outputs in a form that they can keep viewing, share with peers and their community; we are able to use it as a tool to create a global network of peers who can then connect with one another and share stories; additionally we also enable others to replicate, study and incorporate the approach.
Outputs & Outcomes