It’s Time for Reality Enrichment and Life Lessons
Thanks to the efforts of two Paso Robles women, local 8th graders are learning about ways to make good choices in their lives now, and how those choices might affect their future. Founder of The Kayla Peach Memorial Foundation, Donna Kelley, and Patti Lucas, para-educator at Liberty High School and Leadership Student Advisor, are kicking off their fourth year of bringing the REALL (Reality Enrichment and Life Lessons) program to the Flamson and Lewis middle school campuses.
“REALL gives students the opportunity to role-play with the choices they make in life,” Lucas said.
First introduced locally in 2016, the chance for Paso Robles youth to participate came about when Kelley’s mother-in-law, Deerdra, suggested the program after learning about it in Missouri. Kelley and Lucas decided to give it a try.
Liberty Leadership students, along with volunteers from the community, bring the program to Flamson and Lewis. The auditorium is set up to reflect a community, with various tables representing real-life places such as a bank, workplace, unemployment office, social services, and child care center. Chairs in the center of the room are the students’ “home”. The students role-play after being assigned a “name” and description of their “life.”
First up: Poor Choices. The students’ new “life” may include not graduating from high school, or having a child as a teen. They move through four 15-minute periods that represent one week to figure out life.
“They have to get their paycheck, get their baby to childcare, get rent and utilities paid,” Kelley said.
“Maybe they get arrested and go to jail, or they haven’t paid their rent or utilities, and have their utilities shut off or get evicted. They really see how hard it is to survive when you don’t have an education, have kids too soon, or commit a crime.”
Next up: Good Choices. In this alternate “life” students graduate high school, secure a good job, or move on to higher education. The future is starting to look much brighter. The hope is for students to recognize how choices make a dramatic difference in their lives.
“It’s a very positive program,” Lucas said. “Students find out what it takes to live with poor choices and good choices. Most decide that the good choice is the better path to take. Some of our Leadership students are actively living with choices they have made, and many have said they wish they had a program like this before they started high school.”
And what has the reaction been from the students and school staff?
“Everyone has loved it!” Kelley said. “The kids think it’s great, and the teachers, staff, and the district have seen how valuable this is in teaching our youth.”