I Belong



Global Youth Service Day

April, a coworker from the Middleton Youth Center, approached us earlier this semester asking if we wanted to collaborate on a project for Global Youth Service Day on April 15th. We happily agreed.

Our first activity was a nature scavenger hunt, followed by a selfie scavenger hunt. Things on the nature list included, but were not limited to: something cold, something round, something new, and something green. We found it to be easier to do a scavenger hunt where the categories were more ambiguous as opposed to asking for something specific like “an oak leaf” or “a purple flower”. The selfie scavenger hunt is what the kids had the most fun with. It was an opportunity for them to use their phones to get pictures and to work together. Some things on the list were: selfie with a friend, selfie with a bug, selfie near a weird tree, and choose your own selfie.

The next activity was working in the garden. Gabrielle helped explain what we would be planting soon and why it was important to till the soil and weed before we started. The students took awhile to fully get the grasp of what we were doing, but once they started they didn’t want to stop! We got some good photos of the students connecting with nature below!

Jess & Kat, co-facilitators


Meadowridge: New World Radio Workshop

The Meadowridge Radio Workshop took place every Saturday from early February through April. Each weekend, Cheris, Carlos, Nicole (radio intern) and I were amazed (and amused) by the imaginations of each kid who stumbled in to our workshop. Creative expression came in the form of drawing, painting, beat making, rapping, poetry – and more! Although not everyone chose to record with us, what sound clips we do have reflect the deep, passionate, and sometimes just plain silly conversations had with the kids at Meadowridge. To listen to the complete set of recordings click the link – HERE

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 11.17.08 AM.pngScreen Shot 2016-05-05 at 11.16.55 AM.pngScreen Shot 2016-05-05 at 11.16.41 AM.png

Affirmations + Shields

This was an exercise in self-love and positive self-talk. First, we had students make shields, to protect them from bullying and other outside harms. We asked them to split the shield into four sections – one, a compliment for themselves; two, what makes them happy; three, supportive people in their lives; and four, completing the statement “I feel powerful when…”. Students took their time in filling out and completing each section of these shields.

Then we had students create affirmation cards to hang temporarily on the wall. We chose to use emmroy’s work over at positivedoodles.tumblr.com as a visual prompt. Students could draw plants, animals, or objects speaking word bubbles of affirmation. For students that were apprehensive to join, we sometimes drew an animal but left the word bubble blank for them to fill in, making the activity a collaborative process.

See below for the wildly creative things the students came up with!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jess & Kat, co-facilitators

A Safe Space to Grow

Elver Park Community Center provides a safe space for emerging teenagers to navigate “the bridge between childhood and adulthood that is challenging for most teens. The role of the Elver Park Neighborhood Center (EPNC) is to provide social support, homework help and guidance to teens that live in the Elver Park area as they travel that bridge. At the center teens can participate in sports, academic time and other organized activities all led by caring adult role models.” To illustrate Elver Park’s positive impact, we helped their Video Club members create a video highlighting their favorite activities at Elver Park. In addition to celebrating their favorite aspects of the center, this video gave students the opportunity to learn more about using video cameras, go pros, and video editing software. Click on the link below to view the video.

Video Link


Changing the Conversation

Our sixth session was focused on the exploration of gender stereotypes and roles. Each student was given a white ceramic tile and a variety of colorful sharpies to write with. We asked them to pick a combination of dark and vibrant colors to begin creating. Students then wrote stereotypes that were forced on them – such as “girls like pink” and “boys are strong”. They wrote until they filled their tiles.

Then, with a small coffee straw, they dipped their straws in rubbing alcohol and dropped small pools of it onto the tile. They tilted the tiles to swirl and blur the words into beautiful patterns. By erasing the words that were placed on them and instead creating ambiguity, we illustrated how identity is fluid and complex.

Many students chose to take the activity further than we expected, to our surprise. One student, after blurring out the negative words, wrote positive words over the top. Another created an entire separate tile for positive traits they loved about themselves.

This activity is super engaging for all crowds and creates a great take-away project that students can reflect on. See pictures below!

Jess & Kat, co-facilitators

Imagine New Worlds

We prompted students at Elver Park Community Center to reflect on what they believe is wrong or unjust in our current world. After reflection, we had students imagine what an ideal new world would look like to them. In order to provide them a platform for brainstorming, we distributed construction paper for students to illustrate, in any way they chose, what they dislike about our current world and what their new world would look like. Many students found racism, sexism, pollution, hatred, and violence to be problems in our current world. In a new world, students imagined more art, more natural spaces to roam and explore, more empowerment for women, and affordable housing.FullSizeRender.jpg

I am special

Working with 4th/5th graders on self-identity at Light House Christian School. They drew each other’s portraits and most of them didn’t like how they were perceived, so they stood in front of their portrait and said why they were special despite someone else’s perception of them.


Confronting Unjust Laws and Practices

This lesson was adapted from Teaching Tolerance’s lessons “Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice: Confronting Unjust Laws”  and “Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice: Confronting Unjust Practices”.

For our fourth session with the Middleton Youth Program, we began with a conversation about the difference between an unjust law and an unjust practice. We asked our students “What do you know about the Black Lives Matter protests?  Are Black Lives Matter protesters against an unjust law or unjust practice?” Then, using the first photo below, we asked them “Which poster caught your eye first? Why? What do you notice about the people in the photo? When you look at the photograph as a whole, do you think it supports the Black Lives Matter movement, opposes it or neither?“

Next, we read a statement from the Unjust Laws article: “Photographers and their editors make decisions about how to crop photos before those photos go public. Cropping is “the act of cutting away unnecessary or unwanted portions of an image to help focus the viewers attention and help tell a story.” Then we had students take the next two photos, printed, and try cropping them different ways to tell different stories.

The last activity we had students do was create their very own protest signs, like those seen in the photos. See below what they came up with!

Jess & Kat, co-facilitators