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DOES IT TAKE 21 DAYS TO FORM A HABIT?

By Catie Tejeda

Does it really take 21 days to form a habit?  That’s what science says, but is it true?  The EdVoc staff wanted to test this theory on our Hale Kipa youth by offering them a chance to participate in a week-long sequence of educational and experiential activities. These hands-on activities focused on creating positive habits using the compassion and responsibility we knew our youth felt toward animals.

This week long Fall Series incorporated the Humane Society C.A.R.E (Compassion and Responsibility Education) curriculum and Sean Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens step-by-step guide. By weaving these two educational tools together, Catie Tejeda, EdVoc Program Specialist and Karen Thompson, EdVoc Teacher were able to facilitate our youths’ compassion for animals into action while being exposed to basic principles designed to help them discover their values.

Saying hello to the horses at Kualoa Ranch

Saying hello to the horses at Kualoa Ranch  

Student dog with the Vet Tech program at Windward Community College

Student dog with the Vet Tech program at Windward Community College

We used four C.A.R.E curriculum lessons: Taking Action, How to Care, Responsibility Makes a Difference and 3-2-1 Action. Each lesson accommodated our youths’ learning styles through short videos about Taking Action when signs of animal cruelty were present to initiating group discussions on how to How to Care for pets by developing personal mission statements. These mission statements uncovered that our youth were familiar with and open to sharing their personal experiences with animals, so we used their inherent knowledge and compassion to propel their understanding of how to create positive habits. To begin the process we explained how the Responsibility of an animal Makes a Difference not only in the animal’s life but in their life. This encouraged our youth to talk about the consequences of making bad choices and what they can do to change their habits. By identifying how they wanted to make a difference, our youth were able set a goal using the 3-2-1 Action Plan. The 3-2-1 Action Plan allowed our youth to practice making a difference by gathering at the Humane Society and bravely waving hand-made signs that expressed their views about the importance of animal awareness. Not only were the youth able to put their compassion into action but they were practicing the most basic habit, Be Proactive all the while having fun.

Throughout the week, we also introduced Sean Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens to our youth to begin accumulating the tools needed to build positive friendships, resist peer pressure, improve their self-image and achieve their goals.  One or two habits were introduced to our youth everyday and then requested to be practiced within each activity. The habits introduced were Be Proactive, Begin with the End on Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood, Synergize and Sharpen the Saw.

Cardboard antelope for the lion at the Honolulu Zoo

Cardboard antelope for the lion at the Honolulu Zoo

Paper mache treat-holders for the tigers at the Honolulu Zoo

Paper mache treat-holders for the tigers at the Honolulu Zoo

The third habit, Put First Things First was the first time our youth were able to practice their new found knowledge working together on a community service project at the Honolulu Zoo. The goal of the activity was to give two hours of time making enrichment toys for the lions and tigers. Our youth got to work designing and creating projects out of cardboard, scotch tape and newspaper. By practicing Putting First Things First our youth succeeded in making two cardboard animals for the lions and 10 paper mache treat holders for the tigers. Because our youth focused on doing the “hardest” work first thing in the morning, we were able to celebrate our efforts by walking around the zoo, imitating all the animals for the rest of the afternoon.

Washing the dog at Friends for Life

Washing the dog at Friends for Life  

New best friends at Friends for Life

New best friends at Friends for Life

The 7 Habits were valuable tools for our youth to discover, however, Habit 5 Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood was the most inspiring. On day six, our youth were invited to work directly with dogs at a no-kill shelter in Mahaka called Friends for Life. This rustic shelter was the perfect environment for our youth to demonstrate how they understood Habit 5. In their efforts of washing, grooming, feeding and loving the dogs, perceived to be “dangerous” and “hopeless,” the youth clearly went beyond understanding how to actively listen before speaking. At the end of the day, they were able to sit next to the dog they just washed and air-dried with a walk and realize they shared a similar history of hardships and challenges. To have witnessed our youth realizing they have great things to give to this world, we were able to truly see our youth actualizing their potential.

The EdVoc staff did learn that one week of introducing 7 Habits to our Hale Kipa and staff was truly a wonderful experience, but that creating positive habits does take longer than a week. Nonetheless, the answer to the question does it take 21 days to form a habit will have to stay unanswered.  Perhaps with help from our youth and staff who participate in the upcoming Winter Series’ What is Your Art Form we will find the answer. Until then, the EdVoc staff will continue to facilitate the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens through staff trainings and in series to come. If you would like more information about the C.A.R.E curriculum or the 7 Habits and fun ways to introduce them to your youth please contact Catie Tejeda at 808.729.2592 or ctejeda@halekipa.org.
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