As part of my pro-bono work I was asked to come and spend some time at The Homestead, a shelter for boy street children, and play some improv games with them. I was a little reluctant and unsure. I had no idea how much of the stuff they would respond to and what kind of concentration they would have. I arrived yesterday afternoon and found a motley crew of mostly teenage boys colouring in mandalas, an inspired project introduced by Debsalem, their whacky and awesome social worker.
I shouldn’t have worried. We gathered in the room after pushing furniture aside, and played and played. Yes, there were concentration lapses, language hiccups, and moments of frustration, and self-consciousness but hey, they were a bunch of twelve teenage boys and their social workers. I chose easy, fun games, lying games, physical games. Once they got the hang of it they started being creative. After about 40 minutes (about the length of a school period I guess) they were pretty much done. When they were asked what they enjoyed about it one of the younger boys said he just loved laughing. And I guess that’s a big deal for street kids.
After doing a little debrief with Debsalem in her sanctuary of an office, she walked me to my car. Three of the boys were outside, washing her car. She turned to me with a huge smile and said, “they must have loved the session. Whenever they love anything they thank me by spontaneously washing my car!”
I left with a huge smile on my face. I realised that these boys had helped me overcome certain insecurities I had had about their access to this work. It really is positive, amazing stuff, for anybody. You just have to say yes!