Written by Natalie Shubrook, Family Intervention Counsellor – Family Reconnect Program

As a member of the Family Reconnect Program, I facilitate a weekly youth group at Eva’s Place. This group was named by the youth and is known at the shelter as AchEVAs – a play on words of Achievers and Eva’s.

The group focuses on a different topic each week, including stress management, mindfulness, goal setting, active listening, self-esteem, kindness, grief and loss, and anti-oppression and anti-racism. The group encompasses individual reflection, art-based exercises, and interactive activities. The goal of the group is engage the youth in such a way that they are able to take away information and skills in order to strengthen themselves and their ability to self-reflect, thus improving their relationships and ability to relate to others.

The week we discussed problem solving, I introduced the 5 steps to successful problem-solving, including 1) defining the problem, 2) listing possible solutions, 3) considering the positives and negatives of each solution, 4) identifying the best solution, and 5) creating a plan for putting this solution into action.

As a practical example of problem-solving steps, the youth completed the Marshmallow Challenge. They received 1 meter of tape, 1 meter of string, 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 marshmallow and 18 minutes, to construct a free-standing structure that can sustain the weight of the marshmallow. The results were innovative and impressive. The tallest structure that was successfully able to hold the weight of the marshmallow was 26 cm.

The goal of the group was achieved – the youth become very engaged in the activity and they learned valuable problem solving skills while they were at it!

For more information regarding the Marshmallow Challenge, check out their website!

Youth with spaghetti and marshmallows trying to build a tower

Spaghetti and marshmallow with youth hands

Sticks and marshmallows with a youth hand in the background

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