In Costa Rica, the program for children and junior youth has been taught in several schools such as: La Peregrina School in La Uruca, Rincón Grande School in Pavas, Dante Alighieri School, Filomena Blanco de Quirós School, San José School in Heredia, Margarita Rojas Zúñiga School in Pueblo Nuevo Limón, Proyecto Pacuare in Limón, La Capri School, Santa Rita School in Alajuela, Las letras School, Atención Prioritaria de Higuito, San Vicente School in la Unión, Manuel Belgrano School, San Felipe School in Alajuelita, Centroamérica School in Tirrases, Lic. Daniel Oduber School, Villa Esperanza School in Pavas, and 15 de Agosto School in Tirrases.
We have three programs to work with children and junior youth:
1. Program: Gema Virtues and Values
This program teaches 27 virtues and values to children and junior youth by using a simple, highly participatory and reflective methodology. It allows them to recognize the virtues and values they have and their potential to put them into practice.
Once a child has participated in the workshops and internalized the virtues and values, he will show a change in his behavior and attitudes that will be reflected in his interaction with peers and teachers, as well as in his increased interest in learning.
We can perceive a change in his vision of life. The child understands that his life can be different and that he can have a better future. He is able to decide for himself whether or not to use drugs, whether someone should be his friend or not, and whether or not to participate in illegal activities, because virtues and values are now part of his life and elements of his character.
The program consists of 10 workshops taught once a week for two and a half months. It is addressed to children aged between 10 and 15. We work with virtues and values such as love, joy, service, compassion, cooperation, courtesy, generosity, gratitude, humbleness, truthfulness, consideration, respect, unity, trust, braveness, determination, patience, moderation, loyalty, justice, flexibility, idealism, tolerance, commitment, honesty and integrity.
At the end of this stage, the child understands each of the virtues and values learned in class and he is able to apply them in his life (home, community, school).
2. Program: Striving for Excellence
This program is taught a year after the completion of the “Gema Virtues and Values Program”. It aims to strengthen, through interactive theater, the virtues and values learned. Children must act out situations posed in class, and together with their fellow spectators, they must find positive solutions to given social dilemmas. Their decisions must be based on the virtues learned.
At the end of this program, a child will have reinforced their virtues and developed the ability to use them in real life situations.
3. Program: Gema Encounters
At this stage, children have finished elementary school and face “High School” as a new challenge that involves new personal and social changes. So, they need to be guided in their path to excellence.
The Gema Encounters Program aims to guide youth on their decision making as they mature. To accomplish this, we gather with the teenagers who participated in the “Gema Virtues and Values” and “Striving for Excellence” workshops. Meetings take place in their community once a year for a day. The purpose is to reinforce what they have previously learned.
At the end of the three programs, they will have learned about virtues and values and how to put them into practice. Moreover, all that knowledge will become part of their character.
4. Program: Teaching Virtues through Art
This program aims:
Choreographic dance covers the following social problems: Drug addiction, poverty, prejudice, inequality, and abuse.