Making a Difference~
We all are capable and often inspired to make a difference in someone else's life. Many times during a day, we make a difference. Perhaps it is a smile, a gentle touch, a kind word or quality time spent with someone in need.
Several months ago, I was asked to join a non-profit agency in Volusia County that serves children who have been traumatized. One of the programs is centered on prevention and works in schools to teach non-violence. I created an anti-bullying program targeted at middle school children using the Intent Heals Journal and Lending Heart as tools to help these children buffer the negative effects of bullying.
Fifteen amazing families stepped up to donate to this program. I held the first workshop on Tuesday, October 11th, at a homeless shelter in Daytona. The following is a description of that poignant night.
We held our first Give & Forgive program on Tuesday, October 11th at a homeless shelter in Daytona. The homeless children are one of the highest percentage of kids bullied in schools. I am going to give a brief re-counting of the evening.
Mayhem is probably the best word to describe what we walked into -- very high energy, and the kids were loud! The counselor on staff introduced me, Elisa, and the two volunteer interns. I showed the kids the journals and hearts and briefly talked about what we would be doing. The counselor said, "Whoever wants to attend, go into the activity room." It was like a herd of buffalo. I'm thinking, "Oh, my goodness..."
Twenty-two kids packed that room, from 4 years of age up to 17. Parents joined the little ones and participated too. "What is bullying?" Fifteen hands flew into the air, and little hands tugged on my shirt. These kids know what it means to be bullied - very descriptive. How many of you have been bullied? (Adults included). Every hand was raised. "How many of you have hurt someone?" Every hand went up into the air (except for the 4 year old). "We are hurt by others and we all hurt others". I shared the story about the two wolves who live inside us - the bad wolf and the good wolf. What are the feelings of the bad wolf? "Anger, meanness, guilt, sorrow, pain, jealousy...on and on each child shared. "The good wolf?" Happiness, joy, excitement, love, gratitude...they shared. The little four year old said "respect". "Which wolf wins?", I asked.
They weren't sure. "The one you choose to feed."
This was their springboard to understanding how to take responsibility for their feelings and actions. We worked with the Intent Heals Journal, and the oldest teen, read the prayer out loud. It was pretty amazing. Some of the kids shared their own stories. Next I had them read from their cards: Strategies for Dealing with a Bully and Strategies for Staying Positive. At the end, they were each given a Lending Heart and asked to give their heart to someone that they had hurt. Or, if they were hurt the most, to keep it in their pocket until they were ready to lend it to someone else.
The counselors said this was the most well behaved that they had been - ever! Next week, Elisa will review what was discussed and shared. And, in a month, I will go back for a follow-up. Each child took a pre-test, and in one month they will take the post-test to see if there has been any positive changes for them. It was a heartbreaking evening in so many ways, and yet incredibly uplifting too. I found out later that one teen, who had volunteered to read one of the strategies, was severely bullied for his stuttering. And, yet, there he was reading - and he spoke beautifully. How brave of this young man.
I hope that each and eveyone of you knows how deeply you are impacting the lives of these teens and children. I would not be able to do this work without your support and generosity.