Today’s #SameHereHero: 30 students ages 11 & 12 from MJC Hebrew School.
I was fortunate today, to meet w a group of students asked by their school to come up w community service projects pertaining to something they personally were passionate about.
In meeting w the principal & her team prior to today’s working session, the challenge they faced w this activity in the past was actually tying students to something that hit on a true passion they’d be driven by. As an “assignment” most students in prior years just checked the box, to complete the requirement.
To approach it differently & get the results we were hoping to achieve, I shared the story of my own battles in life & how, bc of them, I became personally tied to & passionate about one in particular: MH advocacy.
I’m not gonna sugar coat…I now respect religious school teachers tremendously after that exercise 😉! It’s one thing to keep the attention of 5th/6th graders for over an hour (shorter stories are better…Noted!) – it’s another to do it late afternoon, after they’ve been in primary school all day & are no longer being judged/evaluated based on number grades/class rankings.
Attention spans can be a challenge, as can sharing a topic like MH w such a young group. However, when I was done sharing, we handed out a sheet of paper w 5 open circles. Based on my own story & what I’d faced, I filled in the 5 circles pertaining to my challenges & what general topics would resonate w me.
You never know when ure presenting to children, what they will/won’t process & how much they’re actually following. That said, once we got them to share how they filled out their own circles, I was amazed at just how much they revealed that things in life do in fact affect them deeply. They shared topics such as: seeing loved ones deal w Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the loss of grandparents/parents/siblings/friends, being bullied, moving to new towns, etc.
This stuff is REAL. These kids do internalize the events around them & unless we give them an outlet, these experiences fester & cause damage. Let’s use our challenges as a positive – a reason to get kids to open up – providing motivation to help others. Even at that age, the outlet is needed! Building the concept of the #samehere message into the culture of a school makes it more “acceptable” for students to share their challenges. If we want a healthier future, we need to implement healthier practices!