Teaching the principles to teen-aged boys

schoolbook“I have seen so many students change once they hear about the Principles. The biggest change I saw in a class was at an alternative school with a group of about 12 boys, ages 14-17. When we first arrived to teach our Three Principles-based S.P.A.R.K. program (Speaking to the Promise, Ability and Resilience inside Kids), the class was so rowdy, did not want to listen to anything, yelled at each other, cussing every other word.

“A couple of the boys even started to push and fight during our first class. We went to the class every week for an hour with our lessons on the Principles and week by week, we began to see big changes. By the end of that school year, the boys were sitting in our class, listening intently, participating in group activities, sharing personal stories, and even apologized if they would accidentally let a cuss word slip.

“One boy shared how learning the thought cycle helped him not fight. He said that one day another boy started arguing with him, and he shared that initially he got mad and wanted to fight him. He said he then went through the thought cycle on that first thought and realized putting his thoughts into action would lead to suspension, so he calmed down and just walked away instead.

“During our very last class we asked the boys to write how learning about the principles helped them. Here are a few quotes from their writings:

‘This class helped me because it showed me how to handle my anger and showed me everything doesn’t always have to be negative. It helped me leave everything in the past. Every day is now a new day.’

‘It helped me control my anger, choices, and my actions. I learned how to forgive people.’

‘This class helped me a lot with how to handle disagreements. Also taught me that I don’t need to bottle up my feelings.’

‘Through S.P.A.R.K., I have learned that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can always make a change in yourself.’ “

Ashley Hunt
Director of Program Development
The Cypress Initiative
Quote courtesy Center for Sustainable Change

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