My name is Jorge Pule, and I facilitate the Peace and Leadership Council at Wells High School. Together, the Council is making big strides in infusing youth voice and instituting a culture of positivity in the school, and to witness all this happen has been a humbling experience for me.
Mikva Challenge’s Student Voice Committee Curriculum has been a great tool for me. It perfectly integrates activism and youth voice and allows me to create a safe space for my council. We’ve really come a long way since we first started, and have focused a lot on teambuilding and leadership skills of our young people.
During the first couple of sessions, youth in the council had a hard time being positive about their school and coming up with ideas of how to solve the issues we had. The students couldn’t think about what good the school actually offers. However, my philosophy was you can’t say for sure unless you know for sure. With time, and with big doses of positive encouragement from me, the students slowly started giving the idea of being positive towards their school a chance.
We did face challenges along the way. Sometimes, the issues young people face at home can be mentally and physically exhausting for them, and as facilitators, we take that into account and try to keep them motivated and energized at all times. The smallest things like caring, smiling, and listening, go a long way in ensuring that students trust you enough to voice out their thoughts, and try to change their school culture.