“In this world full of confusion, let the people, especially the youth, develop peace in them.”
—Jacinta Llorando Jra, Youth Trainer, Play for Peace Philippines
What if conflict arises, not from the war around you, but from the war within? An alarming number of mental health cases today are affecting teenagers, which led Play for Peace in Cebu, Philippines to conduct a practice peace session for 11th grade students at Argao National High School this month. Jacinta “Sang” Llorando Jra, one of the youth facilitators, educated the teens about mental health and suicide, providing inspiration for them to pursue their dreams, and identifying the factors that will make or break their goals.
According to Sang, a school teacher and former SK chairperson (a representative for a council representing local youth), a big problem facing teenagers and parents is suicide—a recent public health epidemic in the municipality of Argao. Sang learned about Play for Peace when she was serving as SK chair, and even after her term ended, she continued to help youth with different and challenging issues.
“The mental health issues among students are very alarming, especially here. Famil[ies] should be sensitive to each of its members so they can talk and educate them about it,” she said.
For Sang, Play for Peace means people for people. It’s a group for people who are concerned for others and hope to making this world a better place through the power of play.
“I want to touch more lives and be a catalyst for change in my own way,” she said. “I don’t want to be famous or have a big name. I just want to be a good example to my siblings. I want them to look up to me. I want to awaken and develop the core values and servant leadership within them while they are young.”
During her recent training in Cebu, Sang shared that the participants were very active—you could see that they were enjoying themselves and very interested. They especially liked the “Dream Works” activity, during which they were blindfolded and needed to surpass landmines to get to a gem and put it in a dream basket.
“They liked it because it challenged them to reach their goal despite the difficulties surrounding them. They needed to trust a partner, who guided them in getting the gem,” she said.
During the activities, Sang encouraged participants be “contagious”—or to inspire others to fulfill their dreams. She is grateful that this activity focused on igniting the spirit and awakening the dreams of participants through play. She reminded them that a positive outlook and goals for the future will help them make the right decisions and motivations.
Peace comes from within and it is not from outside to inside; it is really the other way around. What you give to the world around you—be it happiness or joy—must come from what you are cultivating from within. But what if that is shaken by the war happening within? What if the communication within is of defeat, fear or hopelessness?
Play has the power to bring health, both physically and emotionally. It has been scientifically founded to contribute to a healthy growth of children. This is where children learn teamwork, cooperation, and sharing. At Play for Peace Cebu, play is not only for gaining new friends; it is also for gaining a new sense of purpose and vision in life so you can achieve your dreams.