Phoenix UBelong Finds Creative Ways to Learn and Practice Social Skills

By Kristen Quinn, CMHC, CCLS  Phoenix UBelong Volunteer

Social skills and peer mentorship are two of the Phoenix Society’s main platforms.  These two concepts are often the launching points for transition during recovery, helping to move from patient (burn victim) to burn survivor—and later, surviving to thriving. Phoenix Society has introduced a common language for the burn community to use when talking about social skills: Rehearse Your Response (RYR) and STEPS (Self-talk, Tone of Voice, Eye Contact, Posture and Smile).  Learning and using these skills can make entering a new situation or managing stares something a survivor can do with confidence.   Sometimes a mentor comes along at just the right moment to support us.  Sometimes we find ourselves in an intentional or unintentional mentorship role. 

During the Phoenix UBelong Youth and Teen workshop, we created a situation where participants were able to learn these social skills in a safe and supportive environment while also gaining the skills necessary to be a positive mentor.  Members of the young adult community joined our oldest adolescent group to share their stories and talk about how they represent the burn community.  They then accompanied the teens to Open Mic, providing a supportive presence while the teens learned from the adult burn community.  The younger teens learned social skills through the lens of “how could I teach this to someone else”; they then got to experience teaching these social skills to a group of younger children.  The younger groups then practiced their social skills together in a fun and non-threatening “red carpet walk”.

The differences between intentional and coincidental include planning and review; all Phoenix UBelong Youth and Teen participants were given the chance to plan how they would like to impact a group of younger participants.  They were all also given the opportunity to review—what went well, what would you change, and how did the role of being a mentor impact you?   Kids, teens, and young adults helping each other, not just to survive, but to thrive—IS WHAT PHOENIX UBELONG IS ALL ABOUT!

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