By Melor Suhaimi, MD Programs Manager
Photos courtesy of AALEAD MD Staff
Every year on February 14th, couples exchange gifts and exchange their “I love yous.” However, to recognize the yearly celebration of love, MD AALEADers did things a little differently last week. MD AALEADers held discussions on building healthy relationships, learned how different Asian cultures celebrate Valentine’s Day, and provided service by making candy grams for their caring teachers.
As our AALEAD youth are growing up in middle and high school, they are quickly forming friendships and lasting relationships with their peers. With school work, homework, after-school activities, and many more things getting piled up on their plates, youth might not have everyday conversations with their peers about what type of characteristics they want in a friend to conversations about building healthy relationships. AALEAD’s MD Coordinators provided a workshop for youth to discuss the importance of healthy relationships with anyone in their close circle of family and friends, and even in their AALEAD family. AALEAD MD youth were asked to write down characteristics of a healthy relationship on post-it notes. The post-it notes were posted on a large sheet of paper and were then shared out loud by the MD Coordinator. Characteristics varied from honesty, respect, to being able to have fun.
From all the characteristics listed, AALEAD MD youth were then asked to pick 5 characteristics as a group to be listed as the 5 key parts of a healthy relationship. At Eastern MS AALEAD youth worked together and discussed to agree on these 5 key parts of a healthy relationship: honesty, respect, kindness, loyalty, and communication. It was a great conversation starter for our AALEAD middle and high school youth about healthy relationships and the workshop proved that it will be an on-going conversation.
Eastern MS youth continued the week by highlighting 2 out of the 5 characteristics: respect and kindness. AALEAD Eastern MS youth showed respect in learning about how different Asian cultures celebrate Valentine’s Day. They learned that in Japanese culture it is common for females to give gifts to their partners and in the Philippines flash mob dances are quite popular to express how much they care for each other. Highlighting kindness, AALEAD Eastern MS youth participated in a Student Service Learning workshop where youth made candy grams filled with sweet treats, hot chocolate packets, and heartfelt messages for their teachers to show how much they care for their teacher’s hard work and commitment. It was a heart-filled week for our AALEAD MD youth!