Matthew stood in front of the small group of young people. The shadowed auditorium was lit only from the windows high up on the walls near the front. Each of the participants had just offered their piece of learning, their take away, after the three hours of good work that they had just completed. Now it was Matthew’s turn:
“I feel such gratitude being here today,” he said, his voice starting to crack, “ This is a realisation of a dream. A dream that started five years ago.”
We had spent much of the week before in preparation for the first of eight modules for peer support coaching that we presented this Saturday. Most of the small group thought they were coming to learn about peer counselling. Most had put up their hands because they were not that far from their own teenage years and remembered how it was for them. How they would have benefited from support then.
These young people had experience, they knew what their charges should or could do. They were ready to make a difference by providing information, being there, helping and holding. Their intention was noble and from a place of care and concern.
A Deep desire to help
We witness this deep desire to be of help in many young people who come from difficult backgrounds. They see themselves as privileged and lucky because they managed to get into university, managed to get into the course they chose, and on a feather and a whisper managed to have all of it covered financially.
Entering university or college is only the beginning of the challenges many have to face before they receive their degrees or diplomas. Financing their studies is a first hurdle. Then transport, meals, textbooks, access to computers, internet and wifi. The bonfires and chanting recently taking place in Braamfontein are testament to the frustrations of desire meeting reality and not liking the result.
While some fresh-faced nineteen year old barely out of their designer matric farewell gown is showing off their newly renovated apartment accommodation in Stellies or Rondebosch, others are barrelling down the M1 on a taxi or a bus. Dodging potholes and pedestrians they will eventually arrive, hours later to a cramped but clean home in darkness due to another power outage.
Something a little different
With all the extraneous added pressures and hassles, these young adults still want to put up their hands to give up their Saturday mornings for the next eight to ten weeks. We had 17 applicants for 10 places. It’s not as if there is anything fancy on offer. Transport is covered but otherwise the job is to get there and learn. And, yet still they come. Amazing individuals.
What they get is a little bit different to what they expect. Our approach is more coaching focused than counselling. From a coaching point of view we view the “clients” as whole, resourceful, healthy beings who need some insightful questions and a good ear to hear them out so that they can come to their own conclusions and solutions. We want to give them agency by reminding their brains that they CAN.
A long, long time ago… I can still remember how this work made me smile
It starts with me
For the coaches it means going on a journey of increased self awareness, self healing, self understanding and mountains of learning and growing.
As one participant put it, “I need to be healed to help in the healing of anyone else. It starts with me.”
“Yes, indeed.” replied Chantal. “First we work on ourselves, understanding our way of being, our hooks and triggers, our levels of energy and engagement, before we work with anyone else. We do not want to be Rescuer Rubens, we want to be well resourced guides and supporters. We want to walk next to, not push from behind, or pull from the front. That’s just exhausting.”
Comprehension washed over their faces, lit up their eyes, and was made manifest by the nodding heads of the small group. Agents for change they will become.
When we started out in 2017 we had a dream that we would be able to impact and improve the lives of South African youth. We wanted a 5th Place on every corner, a 5th Place in every heart. This past weekend we started reseeding that dream. It has taken five long and very bumpy years of preparation for this dream work. We pray the seeds will germinate and grow, flower and flourish.
Until next time,
Yours in feeling,
Chantal & Matthew
About the author
5th Place is a dynamic organization that's passionate about emotional fitness. We're the creators of Shape of Emotion, a revolutionary tool that's changing the way we understand and manage our emotions. But we're not just about theory - we're about practical, tangible change.
We offer Emotional Fitness Classes and courses that help individuals, from children to adults, build emotional resilience and well-being. For our younger audience, we've created the Vibarealm, a vibrant universe that encourages a healthier interaction with emotions.
Join us on this journey to emotional fitness and let's make the world a better place together.