FAIRY tales tell of castles on the clouds.
The child Cossette in Victor Hugo's Les Miserable speaks of her castle on a cloud. She says, “I like to go there in my sleep, aren't any floors for me to sweep, not in my castle on a cloud." The castle on the cloud is the embodiment of this young girl’s dream of being free from the bondage of hardships and cruelty, a setting where she will be loved and taken care of.
Last week, a group from the National Youth Commission (NYC) went to a school on the clouds. Well that was how the Joaquin Smith National High School looked like from afar. On top of a mountain in Asin Road, Baguio City, the school is embraced by soft white clouds on the morning the NYC joined by a team from the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) was there.
The name of the school has an equally interesting story. The lot was donated by the heirs of Joaquin Smith whose Ibaloi name was Swaking Ismek. American colonizers had difficulty pronouncing the Ibaloi leader's name so they called him Joaquin Smith.
The school was chosen to be the venue for the launch of the Youth Development Sessions (YDS) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) for the children of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) last week. Out of the 547 students of Joaquin Smith National High School, 119 or 22 percent belongs to 4Ps families. The YDS aims to equip the children of 4Ps beneficiaries with the necessary life skills to realize their full potentials, reduce risky behavior and lessen deterrents to their development with the end goal of enabling them to contribute meaningfully to improving the condition of their families.
Intended to augment the Family Development Session (FDS) of the 4Ps, YDS is a youth-centered 4Ps module designed to keep high school students from beneficiary families in school. The modules are designed to develop a positive mind-set among the youth participants. Included in the YDS module are activities which will allow the youth beneficiaries to understand their changing bodies, minds, emotions, and roles in the society.
Teen pregnancy, substance abuse and child pornography are some of the themes of the YDS. For young people to fully the maximize the opportunities under the 4Ps, it is crucial that they learn to take care of and protect themselves, make responsible decisions and be mindful of risks and threats faced by the youth today.
For the NYC, youth development is about young people attaining their goals in life, achieving their dreams. This is embodied in the new agency’s vision of "enabled, involved and patriotic youth realizing their aspirations". The YDS aims to enable young people from the poorest of the poor so they can realize their dreams.
In the school on the clouds, the young 4Ps beneficiaries shared their dreams. Many of them want to be teachers, engineers, doctors and nurses. One wants to be a game developer and another one wants to be a seafarer. JR, a grade nine student, has what seems to be a simple dream but it's a very profound one. He wants to help his family. That is his castle on a cloud, a very beautiful castle on a cloud.