Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Survival kits of hope

My floor was littered with colourful paper, candies, glue sticks, boxes, scissors, and teenagers. We were making survival kits. Many of the teens that I work with self-injure. This comes in many different forms. Cutting themselves, not eating, burning themselves, or more subtle things, like purposefully getting into relationships with dangerous people, or having sex without protection. The list goes on for a while. Why do they do these things? It's not because they are twisted, or weird. It's because they have so much emotion bottled up inside of them, it needs to come out somehow.
So I've been trying to teach them how to release their emotions in a more positive way. But self-injury is an addiction just as powerful as any other. It takes lots of work to over come it. Smokers replace cigarets with nicotine patches or gum. Just like that, we are trying to provide a replacement for self injury.
So we made survival kits. Boxes wrapped in colourful paper, with favourite quotes written on them. Inside the boxes are encouraging notes from friends, lists of things they like about themselves, positive music, candy, lists of things to do,... among other things. The hope is that the next time one of those teens has the urge to do something destructive, they will find encouragement and hope in that little box.
Hope saves lives. You can live 4 weeks without food, 4 days without water, but only 4 minutes without hope.

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