Responsible Decision-Making

Family Resources on A Chance for a New Life

Project and Purpose

Students will explore the value of learning to make safe and socially positive choices. The main character in the video turned his back on a criminal lifestyle and channeled himself in positive ways.

Video Overview:

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A Chance for a New Life

Saul Avina experienced a wonderful childhood in Mexico until his parents divorced when he was 9. After the divorce, his mother moved to America, and Saul was recruited by Mexican gang members who promised to be his new family. He started off selling marijuana to other kids his age, and his experiences exposed him to fighting and other forms of violence. Saul’s turning point came after he witnessed his first and last drive-by shooting. It was then that he decided the money and the sense of family weren’t worth the fear and anxiety that he was feeling. His father allowed him to go live with his mother in America

Ironically, Saul was tested again when American gang members approached him and asked him to join their group. This time he had the strength to say no and to resist the temptation. He took a job as a cook and earned his paycheck the hard way. The sense of pride that came with Saul’s legitimate work was overwhelming, and he eventually found a job working with kids like himself, who come from Latino families and who have witnessed domestic violence. Saul talks to these kids about preventing violence at school, at home and in the community. His experience has taken him full circle, and what he calls a “chance for a new life.”

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students learned about the importance of second chances. In class students discussed how someone can make positive decisions, even if they have made some poor choices in the past.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

The video for this module features a young adult named Saul who was involved in gang activity, but took the opportunity to turn his life around. Saul shares his experiences of his life in a gang and how his life is now very different by choosing to earn a living by legal means.

Conversation Starters and Practice at Home

The first two items are for follow-up after viewing the lesson video and participating in class activities.

What problems did Saul face? Why do you think he made the choices he did?

Why did Saul join a gang when he was young? Why do you think he decided that he needed to get out of the gang?

Why is it important to earn a living by legal means?

What are the types of activities you think would help you learn more about a career? Why do you think so?

Schools to Home Resources on A Chance for a New Life

Discussion and Self-Reflection Questions

  • What caused Saul to seek a family outside of his own house? Have you ever looked outside of your family for elements that a family “should” fulfill? When and why did you do this?
  • Saul describes his move to America as a “chance for a new life.” In what ways did Saul’s “new life” in America save him and provide him with a fresh start?
  • What moves can you make in your life to provide new and better chances and opportunities?


Why would someone choose to be in a gang? How can someone create a happier and more fulfilling life outside of a gang?

In the video, we see that Saul is involved in a play where he tells about the difficulties he has faced as a gang member. The part of the play that we see in the video shows Saul and the other cast members taking turns doing what is called a monologue, or a dramatic speech by an individual to the audience (in a soliloquy the actor is alone and speaking to himself/herself).

Using your knowledge of the students, split into groups of 2 or 3 students. Students will create a short monologue about a social situation. Below are situations that Saul talks about in the video. The facilitator may use these, or create others if she/he wishes. It is okay to give more than one group the same situation; often the different ways that student groups will express the same situation can allow for meaningful discussion.

  • The boy who was attacked and hit with the ball bat having to tell about his experience when he is in the hospital being treated.
  • The gang member who recruited Saul to join a gang, trying to convince Saul to join.
  • Saul telling about his experience acting in a play that about his own life experiences.
  • Saul’s mother telling a friend about Saul coming to the United States, leaving a gang and deciding to get a job rather than going back to the gang lifestyle in the United States.
  • Saul describing why a paycheck for money earned is so much better than money earned by selling drugs.
  • Saul telling about why he was so afraid about being asked to be involved in a drive-by shooting.
  • Saul telling the reasons why he joined and then left the gang.

Give students a few minutes to write their monologues and then have each group read theirs aloud. Encourage students be as dramatic and real as possible given the relatively short amount of time to prepare (this could also be used to extend into the next meeting).

Ask students in each group the following reflection questions:

  • What do you think motivated Saul to not return to the gang lifestyle when he moved to the United States?
  • Saul mentions peer pressure, what are some ways that you can say when peers want to do things that you know will lead to trouble?
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