CBSE workshop on Adolescent Peer Educators for Life Skills, Holistic Health and Well Being

Posted by on Mar 5, 2023 in School News | Comments Off

The Central Board of Senior Secondary Education (CBSE) in collaboration with Expressions India, conducted a training for adolescents titled ‘Adolescent Peer Educators Program in Life Skills, Holistic Health & Wellbeing’ between 13 and 17 February 2023. Several schools from across the country came together on a virtual platform (Webex) every afternoon for two hours to participate in the training. Purnima Verma (IX-D), Dhariya Bist (IX—D), Saanvi Jawa (IX-D) & Cheerayu Saha (XI-E) represented our School as adolescent peer educators. They were accompanied by Ms Meghna Joshi (School Counselor) and Ms Deepa Chugh (PGT Political Science). The purpose of the programme was to impart life skills amongst the students that are useful in the context of everyday life and relevant to contemporary times. Its key objective was to enable them to recognise the role of mental health and well-being and the various ways in which it can be enhanced so that contents of the training can be executed in creative ways within our School.

The training programme was divided across four days (13, 14, 16 & 17 February) with 4 key modules. These were further broken down into 6 key themes.


On the first day, the students were introduced to the objectives of the programme along with its relevance in contemporary times and how it would enable them within the schooling context. Later, over a span of two hours two key themes were discussed by two different speakers. The first theme of the first module was taken up by Mrs Prathiba Maheshwari. It focused on an introduction to life skills. The conversation began with an invitation to the students to put forth their associations on the relevance of discussions on mental health, mental wellbeing and the turbulence that is associated with adolescence. The unique developmental milestones as well as points of alienation, struggles, feelings of loneliness, disturbances around body image and being misunderstood were navigated in a sensitive manner. Creative activities that enabled students to dive into their own emotional world and express it were taken up in the service of helping them acquire a more cogent sense of self. For instance, they were encouraged to talk about the films & movies they most identify with personally. In another activity, a short film was screened to showcase two different ways – one which was normative and another, which was creative to tackle the same dilemma. The key messages of the module centred on normalising the emotional storms of adolescence. Students were encouraged to turn to parents, teachers and mentors for emotional support during this period. They were encouraged to take care of their well-being in a holistic way. Critical thinking skills were emphasised and the significance of exercising one’s personal choices in a mindful way was highlighted. The skills undertaken within the realm of life skills included – Self-awareness, coping with emotions, empathy, communication, interpersonal relationship skills, coping with stress, problem solving, decision making, creative thinking and critical thinking. By first integrating these ideas into their own lives, the adolescent peer mentors were encouraged to think of creative ways in which they could subsequently facilitate the other students at their school in a similar fashion.

The next theme was titled ‘Building resilience for coping & capacity building’. The session began with a short ice-breaking activity which was followed by introducing the students to the importance of resilience which was defined as the capacity to bounce back from any hurdle. The facilitator emphasised the fact that resilience does not mean that the students will not be affected by challenges or adversities, but through the workshop, they would acquire the skill to deal with these difficult situations. The workshop began with an activity where the students were encouraged by the speaker to think about what they see when they look at themselves in the mirror. Through this various other activities the role of self-perception and how it impacts resilience were opened. Students were further invited to reflect on people who they think of as personal heroes and to reflect on their qualities. The purpose was to help them verbalise those behaviours and find ways to integrate them into their everyday life.

Additionally, two case studies were used to foreground how resilience isn’t acquired in isolation but is a collective responsibility. Positive self-talk, the creation of safe space for both self and the others within oneself, as well as outside of us, were qualities that the students were encouraged to embrace. The theme helped students to notice that problems may differ in intensity & degree from one person to the other but self-compassion, a less punitive inner dialogue & using some of the life -skills discussed previously could enable them to bounce back from any situation that life throws at them.

The first day closed off with the selection of two students who were delegated with the responsibility to recapitulate the main themes of the training sessions.


The second round of training (14th February 2023) attempted to cover themes three and four which were a part of the second module. The third theme focused on ‘Nutrition & Exercise’. It was facilitated by Ms Tannu Kapila. Before the start of the session, the major themes from the previous workshops were recapitulated. Afterwards, the students were asked to reflect on the importance of a positive mindset. Through a small activity, they were asked to choose a letter of the week, associate a vegetable with it & create a meal plan. The discussion focused on the inseparable relationship between mental health and gut health. Home cooked meals, their economic feasibility and the control over one’s nutrition was taken up for a discussion. The importance of physical movement and the lack of it in our current lifestyles was explored as a key area.

Students were motivated to not equate fitness only with a gym membership but to rather foster a curiosity around what makes them move and feel pleasant (dance, cycling, skating etc.,) and find ways to create space for the same in their daily routines. The core learning outcomes of the session dealt with the promotion of healthy food habits amongst adolescents, establishing the significance of healthy food items, nutrition and physical movement.

The fourth theme was facilitated by Ms Reetu Sabharwal. It was titled ‘Family bonding and caring communication’. The students were invited to freely associate & brainstorm on what we exactly mean by family, who all constitute this term that we use so casually everyday and the role of this social institution in our lives. Through conversation, students equated family with a personal community that also serves as a space for structural and logistical support besides emotional care. The student body also voiced their opinion by distinguishing between the families of origin that we are born into & the ones we chose subsequently, implying that family is also a feeling that is co-created and co-constructed between people who share trust. Responsibility, trust & freedom were seen as three interdependent forces that served as the soil over which healthy interpersonal dynamics bloomed.

As the session drew to a close the students were also asked to be observant and mindful of the non – verbal aspects of communication.


After a day’s gap, the training sessions resumed on 16 February 2023. Both the themes for that day brought the role of human emotions into the forefront. The fifth theme centered on ‘A healthy expression of emotions. It was facilitated by Ms Swati Banerjee. After a recapitulation of the previous session the students collectively introspected on what the term emotion meant. They were seen as the rhythm of an individual life. Through an activity, the students were invited to reflect on their emotions, especially the more difficult ones. Emotions, as per the facilitator were transient and not permanent. They had a ripple effect on our surroundings. Instead of consolidating the onus of feeling within our interiors, emotions were seen as a meeting of our outer and inner worlds. The students were encouraged to become mindful witnesses & create a space for all their emotions. The session enabled the adolescent peer mentors to understand the health benefits of labelling & identifying one’s emotions. They contributed to healthy decision making & problem solving, improved relationships with one’s own self and with others, stress reduction and confidence. The session helped the students understanding the distress that emanates from unarticulated, unverbalised and repressed emotions. They were connected to the psychosomatic symptoms that one may experience in such a backdrop. The habit of learning to take the lesson from a mistake and to gradually let go of memories that activate shame, sadness, harsh self-talk etc., were also fostered.

The adolescent peer mentors were motivated to really get thinking about their strengths, values and weaknesses through the metaphor of a flower where the flower represents their goals, the stems represent their values and the leaves connote mistakes, bad memories, parts they are ashamed of which can be shed subsequently. Self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation & social skills were key core competencies nurtured at this session. It ended with a small activity where the students were asked to colour their emotions.

The sixth theme centred on ‘Developing healthier interpersonal relationships’. The session started off with a game of ‘Spin the wheel’ virtually. The students were invited to talk about the key word that the wheel stopped on, all words that represented key ingredients of healthy relationships. They included – Being a good listener, extending a helping hand, being a team player, self-care and self-regulation. The participants were propelled to mobilize peer support and help their peers develop the life skills necessary to foster healthier relational dynamics. Through a thought-provoking image of a ship, lifeboats and a sinking ship the students were shown that a relationship can easily turn into a relation-sink. Key aspects of healthy communication discussed in the prior sessions were reiterated, but the peer mentors were also shown the significance of peers during adolescence. The upsides of having someone from a similar age group as a peer mentor were substantiated. A sense of safety, community, the security that comes from knowing that a person in your own age group will have less judgement about one’s difficulties or challenges were explored through conversation. However, the darker undertones of the same were also discussed, especially through the examples of peer pressure. Being assertive, developing one’s individuality beyond the peer group & saying no to one’s peers in case they pressure someone to do something they find disconcerting were iterated. Both the workshops foregrounded how life skills play a key role in helping us navigate relationships in healthier & mutually enriching ways.


On the final day of the workshop the students were introduced to module four which included themes seven & eight. The seventh theme centred on ‘Digital Literacy’ with a key objective of helping students navigate the internet in a safe way, follow digital etiquette and hygiene along with acquiring some awareness on the downsides of being on the internet. This session was conducted by Mr Arkopal Ray. The students were tasked with identifying popular digital logos at the start of the session & collectively asked to reflect on their social media consumption. A screening of a trailer of the popular movie titled ‘The social dilemma’ was conducted to depict for the students that privacy on the internet is a myth and.most of the content that we put on the internet leaves a permanent digital footprint. The usefulness of the same in the context of brand advertising expansion through a digital platform were discussed to subsequently pave the way for the downside of being a digital citizen through examples of cyber theft and virtual security breaches.

The session highlighted that being safe on the internet is a personal as well as a collective responsibility shared by us, the government, the developer/owner of a particular social media platform besides our teachers, parents and.mentors. The effects of data phishing, harmful games on the internet & ways in which hackers steal information was shown to the students along with their detrimental effect on our physical and mental health. The child helpline number (1098) was shared with the participants along with various strategies such as creating stronger passwords, identifying fake websites & hackers so that they can be responsible as well as safe on digital platforms.

The final theme was facilitated by Ms Kulvinder Agarwal. The title of this module was ‘Effective career choices & integrating 21st century life skills’. This session helped the students in acquiring some of the ways in which they can narrow down on their career paths. It began with the recognition of the struggle and.confusion intertwined in this process of garnering career clarity. Through a funny but thought-provoking animated film, the students were introduced to the concept of skill gap, lack of decision-making skills and self-awareness that deter students from making the choice which is suitable for them. Some parameters of a successful career such as communication, self-awareness, critical thinking skills and problem solving were discussed. Academic and intellectual brilliance weren’t enough to succeed at a work, as per the facilitators. The adolescent peer mentors were encouraged to think of a long-term career instead of a specific job. Additionally, they were shown that a decision has to straddle the intersection of reality as well as passion. Identifying one’s values, getting to know one’s interior as fully as possible were deeply ingrained as an ongoing sensibility. The participants were given a blue print on making effective career choices where they were asked to avoid making career choices on the basis of superfluous reasons such as peer pressure, parental pressure or restricting themselves to the first opportunity that comes their way. Assessing one’s self, listing the skills one has & what one can potentially nurture, shortlisting one’s dream job, conducting informal interviews with people that follow that particular direction, identifying one’s goals & the creation of an action plan to give a concrete shape to the abstract were shared as some practical strategies with the students. The counsellors/teacher mentors were further encouraged to help the students by helping them locate role models or people they can look up to at home. Calling resource persons of a specific career to give a talk in schools, hosting annual career fairs, maintaining strong links with alumni & proactively counselling the students were shared as some of the strategies that can be executed within the school level.

As we navigate a world that is slowly emerging from the individual and collective traumas that we’ve all endured in the pandemic, attending these workshops provided the students with an opportunity to take an initiative at a student level & acquire the intellectual tools to effect a change. As citizens of a new & rapidly changing world, the rates of emotional crisis as well as mental health are growing exorbitantly. To counter that, building collectives that can serves as sites of connection, safety and emotional expression within the school by the students for the students, especially as students navigate adolescence which brings forth challenges of various kinds is paramount. The concept of enlisting adolescent peer educators is a massive step in that direction. Adolescents are often infantilized for being too young, too impulsive but this workshops and the kind of student participation they depicted show that this demographic also carries a great degree of sensitivity & awareness. By being influenced in a positive way as one of the speakers mentioned, they have the potential of creating a ripple effect.

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