Youth Transitioning to Work: The River of Life Methodology

At the 2013 Nicaragua Conference  the River of Life tool was introduced as an example of a methodology that can be facilitated with young people to plan for their transition to work. Facilitate this session with your team using the instructions below. You can also find this activity and 4 others in this CLW Conference Session Tools & Methodologies Handout: Social & Political Development.

river of life pic

River of Life Activity  (1.5 hr):

1.       Introduce Rivers of Life activity and methodology  – 10 min

o   This is a visioning activity for individuals to plan for their futures and/or groups to look at a problem, issue or context

o   It is arts-informed, participatory, and accessible (a good way for people to open up and share, for groups with different languages, dialects, and different literacy levels to participate)

o   Set up Methodology of the activity:  Ask participants to envision their Past, Present and Future in 3 sections of the river, drawing key milestones and events in the young person lives, (keep transitioning to work in mind for the entire exercise). First we will envision a brief story, and then invite the Past, Present and Future in 3 phases.

o   Demonstrate an example river of life.

2.       Lead participants in drawing Rivers of Life with leading questions – 60 min

o   Divide into groups of 4 or 5 (materials distributed to tables – markers, paper)

o   Individually, ask participants to draw a picture representing themselves in the top left-hand corner.

o   As them to draw their river of life into 3 sections – Past, Present, and Future, focusing on the present and future.

o   Invite the Past (first section of river). Draw key milestones and events.

§  Leading question: Where have you come from?

o   Invite the Present (second section of river). Draw milestones and events.

§  Leading question: Where are you now? What will you take with you into the future? What will you leave behind?

o   Invite the Future (third section). Draw key milestones and events.

§  Leading question:  Where do you want to go?  What you need to get there?

o   On colored circles identify the skills, capacities and supports you will need for future

§  What skills(hard) will you need (reading, writing, trade, math, IT)?

§  What capacities (soft) will you need (self-confidence, critical thinking)?

§  What supports will you need (family, friends, financial, mental)?

3.       Present individual Rivers of Life (Variation: to entire group, OR to their small groups) – 20 min

4.       Apply  gender analysis & Debrief –  20 min

§Leading questions: How has gender affected your experiences in past, present, future? How is the work you engage in gendered/ what are the various gender considerations?

§Personal reflection: How did this exercise make you feel? What did you learn? About yourself in past, present, future?

§Facilitation with youth: How would you facilitate this with young people in your program?


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