Peacebuilding en Las Américas

Community Creation and Personal Growth for Children in Colombia

AVP for youth, Phase 1 AVP Basic 


by Patricia Duque, AVP Colombia

On November 7, Facilitators began the first part of a Basic workshop for 39 third-graders at the Franciscan Palermo School in Medellín, Colombia.  Patricia Duque coordinated and facilitated the process alongside Jacqueline, Jessica, Gloria, and Luisa Fernanda. They are passionate about promoting AVP to build the next generation of leaders during this critical post-accord period, marked by ongoing assassinations of social activists and ever deepening national polarization. 

This first phase of the basic Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) Workshop is a space for community creation and personal growth. It is an opportunity that is offered to children to receive and strengthen tools that help them:

  • KNOW more about themselves and other people
  • RECOGNIZE the qualities and blessings each possesses and those of his or her companions
  • AFFIRM each other and always speaking positively and purposefully
  • PRACTICE VALUES AND ATTITUDES such as active listening, teamwork, cooperation, respect.
  • LEARN to find creative and non-violent solutions to conflicts.

The children came to the workshop with a lot of joy and motivation with expectations of what they were going to experience. They very quickly identified in the drawings the methodology and goals of the experience together. Enthusiasm and creativity were evident in the formation of working communities and in the creation of its identity. In each excercise, they maintained their enthusiasm, displayed their creativity, and showed themselves very autonomous to perform the tasks assigned in each exercise. The integration was excellent at all times. At the time of the cooperative games, they properly followed the instructions and had a lot of fun without asking for prizes or mistreating each other or competing with others. It was a space where we could see the fruits of the reflections.

EXERCISE: CREATING WORK COMMUNITIES. Coloring equipment distinct for each group. Each team creates their identity: Name, phrase, presentation, song chorus. Each participant writes their name to place it in the identity tree.

Cooperative Games occur after each group reflection 


Purpose: Recognize and identify different emotions. Promote communication, participation and the construction of positive interpersonal relationships.

: Tell the story the colorful monster where the four basic emotions will be affirmed and insisted: fear, sadness, anger and joy. Showing it in the drawings. You are invited to play in an enchanted lake: a space for the lake will be delimited and there will be a representation of several stones where you can stop so that your heart does not freeze when you fall into the lake. You can only step inside the hoops. If someone falls frozen, he will stay in that same place until another partner rescues him by giving him a big hug to defrost his heart. The objective of the game is to ensure that there are no delighted players. The facilitator will tell a story with the colorful monster and when he mentions one of the four emotions everyone must change their stone.

: How did they feel in the game? What was the most you like? What did we learn with this game and with the story? Why is it important to help others?

“The Grumpy Tree”

Purpose: Recognize the value of generously sharing our gifts to create community and encourage the creativity of children by personifying roles through puppets.

Process: After welcoming the group, we tell the following story: Camila, an eight-year-old girl lived in the city, but because she loved animals and flowers, she decided to go on vacation with her grandmother who lives near a large park where there were many trees, flowers and all kinds of animals. One day while Camila walked through the park she found a large tree. The tree was very lonely. The animals of the park called him the grumpy tree because although he was the largest in the park and did not need his shade, he never shared it with any of the animals.  He didn’t let them sit nearby. That year the winter was terrible, the tree had lost all its leaves and was about to die of cold. Camila, discovered the tree shivering and went for a scarf to shelter him. The spirit of the forest appeared to her and told her why the tree was so lonely and nobody helped him, but in spite of everything, the girl decided to help him. The following spring, the tree had learned from the girl’s generosity, and when she sat next to his trunk, he gave her the best of shadows. The spirit of the forest saw him and went to tell all the animals, that from that year on, they could always have the best shade because the tree understood that with generous and kind beings the world was a much better place to live. (Author: Pedro Pablo Sacristán). Together students describe the tree recognizing the different aspects of the story.

Processing: Why didn’t the tree share its shadow with anyone? How did the tree learn about generosity? Who taught him and how did he do it?
We motivate children to let our imagination fly. Each one will meet a new friend represented in a puppet. First they will talk with him and then having him as the main character he invents a story, he or she will write it on a sheet and then share their own stories.

Annex 1. Informative release to teachers and administrators for institutional coexistence
Pedagogical activity of personal growth and group integration Tricerebral.

Cordial greetings of peace and good, dear teachers. We invite you to strengthen the spiritual human accompaniment work of our students, allowing them opportunities to help them expand the level of awareness, through the ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM TO VIOLENCE, whose purpose is that in interaction with other people, they can enjoy and share a space that allows them to obtain internal and external knowledge. It is an opportunity to value the rights and duties that will improve their relationship with themselves, with the people they love and with other people with whom they interact daily.

Based on a diagnosis given by the group director, we will develop a coexistence strategy from the areas: recreational, psychological, communicative and reflexive. Using these strategies, the student will be able to discover, affirm and deepen the strengths and those of his classmates, orienting them to transform his personal life project more accurately.

It is very important the previous contribution and during the coexistence, of the group director, since the methodology to be used is totally experiential, participatory and reflexive, where the main actors will be the same students and our role will be active companions in the process.