At the moment we haven’t found an affordable, suitable and safe building. I envision a two-story building that serves both as my home and as the Breadfruit House. With a porch and a rocking chair, a sizeable open space with locally made tables and benches. And a reading corner with a lovely mural and colorful cushions on the floor. Okay, time to stop daydreaming and find a way to work around the ‘no building’ hurdle.
For those of you who don’t know, our vision is to offer children an inspiring, encouraging, and safe place to express their emotions and tell their stories with the help of creativity.
And although the idea is certainly not new, there is no existing program. And I truly feel I want to follow my path in this, which means in a way I am reinventing the wheel.
A pilot program is an ideal start to find what works and what doesn’t. I do, however, need a space to do the program with the children. So, I approached a local primary school to use one of their classrooms after school and offered a limited number of children, the pilot program free of charge.
The school invited me to a meeting with both the principal and the deputy principal. They were very keen on the program and had already started putting together a list of children they thought could benefit. After a very agreeable meeting discussing the logistics, we agreed decided that the program would begin on 14 November 2019, which gave me three weeks to prepare.
From vision to execution
When I got home after the meeting, all of a sudden, it hit me; this was now happening. The idea I envisioned had just become an actual pilot program. Other people believed in my concept, and I have to admit that felt powerful.
Now I had to start working on ways to keep the children entertained while offering them the opportunity to tell their story. I have to admit it felt daunting at first, and for a while, I had no idea where to start.
That soon changed when the school informed me that I had to contact all the parents and let them sign a consent letter. By signing the form, they approve of me teaching their children and allow me to take pictures and short videos for promotional purposes.
I started researching ideas for so-called icebreakers because the first session would be all about breaking the ice. I decided to take it from there and see how the dynamic in the group was. There was no need to have everything planned out for the entire program. And believe me, that proved to be a good strategy.
Getting to know each other is fun
The age range of the children in the group is between 6 and 11 yrs. They are all in different classes. An excellent way to start the very first session was getting to know everyone in the group.
I knew I wanted it to be a fun activity. And, what better than answering funny and silly questions about you. I came up with around 30+ questions printed on colorful cards, given that I wanted it to look attractive and inviting.
During a trauma-sensitive support course, I learned that the way you present your material shows how much you value your participants. Therefore always make sure you offer everything in the best way possible.
The questions had to be age and culturally appropriate, as well as not touching any sensitive subjects. For example, some children don’t have a father figure in their lives, or the father they have does not treat them very well. Therefore, in my opinion, questions related to fathers do not belong in the first introduction.
These are some of the questions I came up with: What is your favorite pizza; have you ever touched snow; have you ever caught a fish; do you have siblings; what are you grateful for.
Of course, everyone was a little shy; initially, I took the lead and pulled the first question from the stack and answered it. All the children got engaged, and we did several rounds of questions. It was so much fun, and the time flew by.
Towards the end of the session, I handed out paper and pens and asked the children to write down all the questions they wanted to ask me. I can tell you some of them surprised me.
Let me tell you about that when I ‘See you at my next Blog.’
Love from the Nature Island,