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Sandy Again

Hi everyone, this is Sandy again, I am here at Baan Unrak in the month of December to do some fun empowering mental health activities with children aged 14 – 17 year olds.

I was very pleased this time to meet some university children of Baan Unrak. They helped me and assisted me with some activities here. I was impressed by their level of maturity and understanding. I congratulate the effort that Baan Unrak has made to provide their children with professional help and information for personal growth from the very inception of their foundation. Now again Baan Unrak invited me here. The topics we covered today were on Body Boundaries, Good Touch and Bad Touch, and Consent and Respect.

We started with talking about Body Boundaries. Using their hands as an imaginary hula hoop, and their hands stretched sideways the children spin around. When the children entered others’ boundaries they had to apologize to each other.

These invisible boundaries are important is setting the sense of “self”. When children are able to set their boundaries, they can start to learn about how they deserve, rather than want to be treated by other people. During our activity the children provided a good example that being in a home with large number of children others are in their imaginary boundary or space. Their solution is to remove themselves from the situation to find a quiet place to be alone. The children also took turns to make a facial expression and their friends would have to guess what emotions they were feeling.

When we talked about good touch bad touch the children were not shy at all. When we discussed about which parts are private and how we should never keep a secret if someone touched those parts. There were loud responses across the room. They all understood clearly and surprisingly they were not shy. The children were given a paper with a naked body to cover the areas they didn’t want others to touch. Most children colored full clothing on their assigned papers. The children shouted the 3 strategies NO, GO, TELL over and over again (say NO in a firm voice, GO to a safe place and TELL a trusted adult)

On my previous visit some children mentioned that they like to stay close to their group and don’t interact much with other children.During half time we played a game called Friend’s Corners. Before the session the children had to choose ABCD answers to 8 easy questions such as favorite color (red, blue, yellow, green), favorite activity (cooking, listening to music, watching movie, doing homework), and favorite animals etc. The purpose of this game was to show students that other children also might have similar interest and to encourage interacting with each other. The questions were projected onto the wall, ABCD letters were in different corners of the room. They had to find a corner that matched their answer. They also had to keep counts of how many times they met the same people in the same corner. After the game, two children shared that they were in the same corner 7 times, and four said they were in the same corner 5 times. I asked if they knew that they have the same interest.  They said that they had no idea, in fact two girls said that they never spoken to each other.

Throughout the training, the boys were always whispering and talking until we got to the topic of consent, they stopped talking and the room was completely attentive especially when we discussed that they had rights. They can decide to give consent or even change their minds. We used the handshake activity to demonstrate consent. The first time they shook hands where one person dominated the handshake without asking. Then we did the second handshake where both children took turns to decide their handshake routine. They could choose aleft, right, up or down handshake, a hi-five, or a twist and turn with some dance routine. Then a few students took turns to share their routine with the class. Next, we discussed the differences and their feelings between the first and second handshake. Which handshake was more fun and why. The children learned how to ask for consent, listen for a response and to respect other people’s choices. The children were very smart and quickly related it to sexual activity.

I would like to thank Gin Tan and Christy Mathers for providing the teaching materials and helping with the presentation ideas. For my next visit we will discuss puberty, safe sex and intimacy.

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