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Addict…criminal…abuse victim…

These are just some of the labels that street youth give themselves.

They are so used to people focusing on their weaknesses that they begin to believe that they do not possess any strengths.

At P4Y, we have adopted a Strength Based Approach –we focus on identifying and building on the strengths of the youth. By doing this, the youth feel empowered to start making positive changes in their lives.

One of the ways we identify a youth’s strengths is we have each youth fill out a short strengths assessment. We then show the youth the results, as well as a list of strengths that the art group volunteers and staff see in the youth.

Recently, Eve, one of the P4Y youth, met with her mentor Sascha (an OIM volunteer) to go over the results. Eve sat quietly as Sascha read out the results of the assessment. Eve was speechless as Sascha read out some of Eve’s personal strengths:

Commitment to family…peer connectedness…community involvement…

Then Sascha began reading the list of strengths that the art group volunteers and staff see in Eve:

Unafraid…loving…joyful…honest…a leader among her peers…

Tears started streaming down Eve’s face. She couldn’t believe that we see these strengths in her.

She hugged all of us, thanked us, and asked for a copy of her strengths.

My hope is that we were able to show Eve a glimpse of how we see her: As a capable young woman who has unique strengths to offer.

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