Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Youth development specialist pushes ‘YES Effect’

Published:Tuesday | March 8, 2022 | 12:07 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer
Ruth Lawrence, lead facilitator.
Ruth Lawrence, lead facilitator.
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Author and youth development specialist Ruth Lawrence is hoping an initiative she is championing, ‘YES Effect – Vision Board and Goal Setting Project’, will bring about positive changes in young people.

The project started on December 21 last year. According to the lead facilitator, it had a great start and her hope is that it will only keep getting better.

The YES Effect – Vision Board and Goal Setting Project aims to shine beams of hope on students during the COVID-19 pandemic by hosting free monthly virtual sessions.

The YES Effect initiative is guided by the mantra ‘See it, Plan it, Dweet it’, and is designed to expose youth between the ages of 15 and 29 to the tenets of visualisation, goal setting, and the tools required to utilise strategies to actively pursue and achieve their goals.

The project was conceptualised after data from a recent UNICEF poll indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on the mental health of adolescents and young people in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The survey engaged 8,444 youth between the ages of 13 and 29 throughout the region. It was highlighted that 15 per cent felt depressed in the last seven days on the matter of their future, while 43 per cent of the women felt pessimistic in comparison to 31 per cent for males.

Lawrence, in giving feedback on what she describes as “a creative way to restore the hope and ability of students and youth to visualise, plan and achieve their goals”, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous youth to be despondent, because they believe that the challenges associated with the pandemic will never end. It is because of this mindset that we are providing a medium for them to dream and live again.”

Lawrence said the inspiration for the project came from her own life as she, at one point, struggled to find her way.

PERMISSION TO DREAM

Reminiscing on what she recalled being her lowest days in 2016, and how her hope was restored, she said she “gave herself permission” to dream about the life she wanted and created a vision board to reflect what she saw as her life’s “coming attraction”.

“This clarity for my vision helped me to become better organised. It lessened my proclivity to procrastinate, and my appreciation for time management grew immensely. Since then, my faith has significantly grown, and I have created vision boards for almost everything I desired – from studying overseas, self-publishing my first book, to simply setting goals to read more books, and most importantly, spending more time with the Lord,” she shared with The Gleaner.

Lawrence said having found success through that medium, she is now establishing that mission for young people so they, too, can maximise their potential by writing their vision.

“I want to also caution persons that the vision board is not magic; it is driven by your faith and your action. Nothing happens by accident, so it requires great faith, clear goals, and strategies to achieve them,” she noted.

Lawrence is encouraging schools and youth organisations to refer suitable candidates to attend her free monthly workshops, as they have a target to impact 1,000 youth.

Special personal development sessions will be hosted on topics such as time management, scholarship 101, confidence building, financial literacy, and life on purpose.

The project is actively supported by 10 youth volunteers: Fabrizio Darby, Isheba Cornwall, Ree-Anna Robinson, Tamoy Campbell, Keneisha Henry, Sandrene McKenzie, Alliyah DaSilva, Shantae Shand, Fabian Morris, and Joshua Clarke from The University of the West Indies, Mona, University of Miami, and LaFayette College.

The timeline for project execution will be seven months – January-May and September –October. Students can take part in the sessions which are held via Zoom by registering at tinyurl.com/yeseffect.

cecelia.livingston@gleanerjm.com