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Jenna Waite took part in the One Love Youth Camp in Jamaica in 2016, organised by PYE in partnership with the Bob Marley Foundation.
I watched closed, scared and shy students transform over the period into friendly, confident risk takers.
Attending the staff training I was surprised at the intense enjoyment I felt from participating in the activities. This gave me confidence to present these activities to the participants which they found equally enlightening. I watched closed, scared and shy students transform over the period into friendly, confident risk takers. The name tagging, name games and workshops help to build a sense of safety, acceptance and the warm and comfortable environment at the Mount Glory camp site made for a real group bonding experience. Students used dub poetry, singing, drumming, knitting and dancing to create an electric Music and Dance evening. They really opened up to each other, the facilitators and I believe to themselves.
As a school counselor, I frequently encounter students trapped in a culture of shyness, low esteem and fear of self-exploration compounded by an environment that fosters children’s silence and little opportunity to participate fully. As soon as the students recognize that they can indeed “be their true self” they take on wings and it is magic to watch.
Photo credit: Ella Cooper.
The two phase Creative Facilitation program was a blast this year with Ed and Aaron leading. We learnt so much about how to conduct workshops, lead different activities and create the right environment for participants to have a fulfilling camp. All these lessons were put to test as I experienced being a lead facilitator at One Love Youth Camp 2017. This opportunity has taught me so much about myself- strengths and weaknesses, about working with other facilitators and managing and responding to participants’ needs. It was fantastic!
I conducted workshops on building positive self-esteem, poetry writing and enjoyed leading with Ed and Aaron. It was a joy to once again watch the transformation among the participants and facilitators.
Speaking to Mrs Roxanne Williams, principal at the Bob Marley Primary and Junior High School, she states that “the participants have become more sociable, willing to get involved in school activities and are great performers. Also, very eager to show off their new skills learnt each time.”
Photo credit: Ella Cooper.
Using the arts and music and being able to change the energy of a session has paid off immensely with students who are more engaged and productive.
As a counselor, being trained in Creative Facilitation has helped me to create more diverse group counselling and lesson plans. Using the arts and music and being able to change the energy of a session has paid off immensely with students who are more engaged and productive. Noticeably, my parenting workshops have become more exciting since the inclusion of more fun games, goals and agreements and opportunity for each person to play a role in the session.
I am delighted to be joining the excitement at Culture Jam 2017 in Oregon this summer and know I can only become a better teacher, facilitator and person for having been a part of this unique and evolving process of creative facilitation within the Creative Community Model.
The facilitators of One Love Youth Camp 2016. Photo credit: Ella Cooper.
Thanks to your support we’ve been able to deliver a wide range of programs over the last few months to unleash the creative potential in youth around the world. Here are some highlights of what you’ve helped us achieve:
- In June we ran a series of Creative Facilitation trainings in Athens for Teachers supporting the integration of refugee children into education in Greece with partner Elix, building their toolkit of methods to build inclusion and participation in their work
- We wrapped up two year-long Creative Classroom teacher training for teachers in Cyprus in partnership with Cyprus Pedagogical Institute and in the UK in partnership with Ashoka UK Changemaker Schools and Liverpool Studio School empowering teachers to empower their students
- We ran a Creative Facilitation session for 20 front-line intercultural workers in Barcelona, Spain in partnership with the City of Barcelona equipping them with arts-based facilitation skills for their community work
- We partnered with Elisa Sednaoui Foundation to run Creative Facilitation trainings for youth workers in Rome, Italy and Cairo, Egypt, and continued to train trainers in Egypt who deliver Creative Facilitation training in Arabic
- We were blown away by the summer of North American arts-empowerment camps in North that have entered their 21st year with camps run by partners Commonweal, Culture Jam, Power of Hope Canada, IndigenEYEZ and our flagship camp program Power of Hope US on Whidbey Island
- We ran Creative Facilitation sessions with new partners Art Starts in Toronto and with First Star UK and more!
But we’re not done yet. We need your help. Here’s how you can get involved.
- Tell your friends. Please pass on the list of upcoming trainings to anyone who is interested in empowering young people.
- Recommend PYE to a school or organization who could benefit from PYE Creative Facilitation or Creative Classroom training.
You can reach us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Imagine being met by 30 sleeply 14-year-olds at 8 am. Your job is to get them engaged and excited to learn. This month’s tip comes from high school language arts teacher Jackie Amatucci:
“I came up with the idea of have each student do a one-word check-in on how they were feeling by imagining a thermometer measuring 1 to 10 degrees. One degree means, ‘I wish I was still in bed’ and 10 degrees is, ‘I am ready and excited to learn’! Each person says their first name and where they sit on the thermometer. We’d zip right around the room and I would acknowledge each response with equal appreciation regardless of the number. By the end of this quick go around, there was always a remarkably positive shift in the room.
A few days after starting this, one student spontaneously wrote down each classmate’s number and came up with an average for the day. He then charted the daily averages to show the mood of the group over the course of a week. I’m convinced that imagining the thermometer set off a creative ripple in the group that resulted in the chart. We did this for several weeks with great results.”
Here are three other imaginative ways to do a quick check in whether in a classroom or a workshop:
- What animal do you feel like today?
- What’s your personal weather forecast?
- What kind of vehicle do you feel like today?
Photo credit: Ella Cooper
It’s not often that a video of a teacher goes viral. But this video of Barry White Jr., a fifth-grade teacher in North Carolina, has had millions of views and shares. Maybe it reminds us of a great teacher we once had. Or, perhaps it’s what Mr White tells us about what really effective teaching looks like – in just one minute.
Here are five lessons we can learn from Mr White:
- Strong teacher-student relationships are key to kids’ success in school.
Mr White has a special handshake that he performs with each student. Through this handshake, he communicates that he values them and sees their unique qualities. Just as importantly, during those couple of seconds of engagement, he builds trust and he demonstrates that he cares. Research tells us strong teacher-student relationships have a direct impact on student engagement and achievement. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
- Creativity makes learning more engaging.
When I first saw this video, I was immediately reminded of my sixth-grade teacher, Mr Sanderson. Mr Sanderson used his art skills to teach history through elaborate drawings on the chalkboard. When teachers bring creativity into the classroom, learning becomes more meaningful and engaging. Like Albert Einstein said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
Teachers don’t need to be professional or talented artists like Mr Sanderson; there is a whole world of creative facilitation techniques and art-based activities that they can use, without any artistic skill or experience.
Google ‘creative facilitation’ and you will see hundreds of links to websites with art-based activities. Check out Games for Actors and Non-Actors by Augusto Boal, founder of Theatre of the Oppressed, to explore Boal’s revolutionary Method for using theatre to transform and liberate everyone. There are so many creative ways to awaken a student’s joy and engage with learning and these are a great place to start.
- Rhythm exercises build focus for learning.
A short rhythm exercise before a session, like Mr White’s handshakes, helps learners to focus and can get kids excited about learning. But it doesn’t need to be just at the beginning of the class; a whole group rhythm exercise can help to bond and connect members of a new class. Use call and response clapping rhythms to get the attention of a noisy class, to re-gain lost attention, and as a means of de-stressing.
Rhythms with cross-lateral movements actually help to connect the left and right side of the brain and can boost academic achievement. Again, Google will reveal plenty of rhythm-based activities to help focus students for learning.
- Create an environment that invites full participation.
With his good morning handshake for each student, Mr White welcomes and invites them into the classroom. From the energetic ones to the ones who may need a little more encouragement, they may participate according to their own learning style. Mr White succeeds in creating an environment in which his students feel safe and supported.
Since each handshake is different according the individual’s personality, it fosters acceptance of one another. When kids feel accepted, they are more likely to participate without fear of embarrassment, ridicule, or being put down by their classmates.
- Teachers play a vital role in helping kids find joy in learning.
Kids are naturally curious and wired to learn. Teachers like Mr White help kids find the joy in the learning process. He is a living example of the commitment, passion and enjoyment he has for teaching. That sense of purpose is infectious. Teachers like Mr White help kids find their own purpose; they light a spark that opens them up to learning and this has a long-term effect on their aspirations.
Just watch Peter Benson’s brilliant TED talk on how to help kids thrive. It’s like the late poet Maya Angelou said, “This is the value of the teacher, who looks at a face and says there’s something behind that and I want to reach that person….” That’s certainly what Mr White Jr. does when he high-fives those keen young learners on their way into his classroom each morning.
With so many changes in education, Mr. White reminds us that one thing won’t change – that great teachers will always be an important part of helping kids to thrive.
Meet Kleopatra Kalogerakou
Kleopatra Kalogerakou is an English teacher at the first Experiential Middle School of Athens, Greece. Like many teachers, she was acutely aware of the need to do more to foster 21st-century skills in her students, and was looking for practical ways to do this. She was also looking for ways to motivate her students to learn, actively engaging and involving them in the classroom. All whilst accommodating diverse learning styles.
The Creative Classroom Solution
Kleopatra signed up to our Creative Classroom course in Greece based on our proven model for youth empowerment that combines experiential learning, group facilitation, and the arts. The program was made up of two 2-day trainings over the course of an academic year with time to apply the skills and gain feedback between in-person trainings.
The Impact in the Classroom
Kleopatra was thrilled to discover she could use creativity, self expression, and social and emotional literacy to increase her impact in the classroom and make learning more interesting.
“I have used several activities in my English language classroom,” says Kleopatra. “I used visual arts techniques and visualisation to express visions of a shared future. Role-playing activities and introducing music and dance also helped students to express feelings, ideas, likes, dislikes, and preferences.”
“Through Creative Classrooms I learned how to bring my artistic self back into play and create a more welcoming atmosphere for my students.”
As a result of the course, Kleopatra reports that her students are more eager to participate. She says that students are more comfortable in front of their classmates as they are less judgemental and more accepting of one another’s weaknesses and strengths. “I adopted and adapted Creative Classroom activities according to my students’ needs” she concludes “and the results have been incredible”.
Ready to motivate and engage your young learners more effectively? Attend one of our upcoming trainings.
Thanks to PYE Global, the power of play and creativity is an active, vibrant part of my daily life. My facilitation trainings with PYE inspired me to revision leadership on many levels. Here’s an example of how PYE’s approach informed a project I led this summer.
The project came together through a collaboration with Rita Zawaideh, founder of a Seattle-based humanitarian aid organization called SCM Medical Missions. This nonprofit is focused on the specific task of bringing relief and aid to people affected by conflict and natural disaster within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and to bring people and cultures together to build bridges of understanding.
I assumed a leadership role in designing and implementing a youth service project for 50 church campers at Epiphany Parish of Seattle. I brainstormed with Rita a service project that would benefit Syrian refugees while also being scalable and age appropriate for children from preschool to fifth grade. We decided that collecting and creating hygiene kits to support Syrian refugees would achieve both objectives regarding need, service scope and age.
In the end, these 50 children teamed up to create 100 hygiene kits. But they did more than just meet basic human needs. They also embodied their service with creativity and art to add a personal touch and send a message of hope to the refugee children. The craft room came alive in a whirlwind of excitement as kids used colorful markers, construction paper and glue sticks to paste paper hearts onto paper cut out hands symbolizing love and justice.
These children also drew pictures of their families and included small toys in the hygiene kits to help make a warm, human connection with the Syrian refugee children. Finally, the campers placed an assortment of vegetable seed packets into the kits to provide food sustenance for the Syrian refugee families. In this way, they helped plant seeds of hope nourishing body and soul alike. Ultimately, these children created a group rhythm of solidarity enlivened with the movement of hands-on service.
This is the quintessential element of a group rhythm. It takes a personal narrative and gives it a beat, a pulse and a collective groove. It draws out the humanity in each of us and turns it around to empower others. Thank you, PYE Global, for teaching me what it means to be part of a tribe to enact positive social change. You have helped guide my steps toward an engaging life of creativity, movement, service and play. May we all find a rhythm that makes life come to life through the joy of movement!
Themistoklis Gkion is a lead facilitator with PYE and the Founder and Learning Experience Architect at Flow Athens in Greece, but he doesn’t stop there. Themis (for short) has a passion for education that has shaped his career path, bringing him in a full circle that starts and ends with helping others.
Themis grew up surrounded by education and began working at the school his grandmother owned when he was a teenager. He found himself captivated when observing people learn and grow and solve problems: “I was always fascinated when I could see the spark in the kids’ eyes when they were fighting to address a challenge.”
Themis went on to pursue various career paths. He started as an engineer, and then took on a managerial position in a small school. He then moved to finance to become a derivatives trader. “I was a free spirit. I was always seeking something to give me meaning and purpose in my life.” Themis’s taste for learning and education never subsided, and this led him to his current mission.
Themis started Flow Athens in 2010 to change education and fill the gaps of the current system. Flow Athens designs and facilitates experiences to teach youth and adults forward-thinking skills, creativity, mechanisms for innovation, collaboration and more. Themis uses games and activities to foster learning that goes beyond what’s taught in a classroom, and that’s where PYE comes into play.
PYE has given Themis the confidence to be a teacher and to teach more effectively, taking Flow Athens to another level. “PYE has given me a wealth of arts-based activities, as well as a process to facilitate experiential learning programs.” Themis began working with PYE a few years ago after attending Creative Facilitation Training in Athens, Greece. The structured and cohesive activities that PYE offers allowed Themis to improve his and his student’s work. “I had been using games and technology, and PYE has been using arts-based activities in order to pursue the same goal; cultivate 21st century skills. There was a lot of similarities and complementarities, and that’s how we started working together.”
Through Flow Athens Themis was able to get back to his roots in education and develop a new mission to help others acquire skills that aren’t offered in traditional school systems. “I want to help youth develop the skills that will allow them pursue their careers and actually conduct meaningful lives, find meaning in whatever they do and follow their passions.”
Themis also uses PYE techniques in his work with refugees. He has used the creative classroom model to empower teachers from refugee schools, who informally teach young refugees that have migrated to Greece. “We’re offering them the creative community model because it’s really suitable and adaptable for audiences of different ages and different languages. It’s proven a very useful and versatile tool for the teachers in order to be able to facilitate such diverse classes.”
Themis’s advice for anyone who wants to help others succeed, is to look deep inside yourself to determine what your real motives are; to find your real passions and driving forces, and above all to discover the child within you. “It’s so much better when you can work with youth with a playful attitude. It’s so much easier to invite their imagination. Most of my work, I totally enjoy it. It’s like playing.”
Lakota Bisaillon recently graduated from our Power of Hope Camp on Whidbey Island last summer (2016).
As he was growing up, traditional educators made many attempts at stamping labels on him. Dyslexia, Asperger’s, PDD, but he kept washing those off. Until he began to see his challenges as gifts; gifts that empower and give focus.
Lakota attended Power of Hope camp for 5 years. He came for the first time when he was just 13, and he feared he would be bullied. Instead he grew mighty and even mightier every summer. After he graduated from high school last year, he earned a black belt in taekwondo, completed his last PYE camp, and attended a quarter in college. THEN he made his way solo across the world to attend Kunyu Mountain Shaolin Academy in Muping, China, where he has been since the first day of this year.
There, he and 34th generation monks and other students climb the mountain very early each morning to meditate in the same cave where Confucius pondered meaning for 9 years.
After the long scramble down, they eat a quick bowl of fresh veggies, then train intensely for 8 hours. Evenings bring classes of acupuncture, calligraphy and Mandarin.
His mother Mary Delacruz shares:“The last message that I got from him was filled with gratitude and the fact that he has found his inner ‘piece’. I love the entendre of that wording.
To me, I think he found a piece of power along with a deep calming quiet. But, I do not think he would have found his power if it were not for the journey’s beginning through PYE and both of you, Peggy and Nadia, as well as from Charlie.
And all of the incredible folk that you hired on and campers that you served to combine for the most empowering events on earth…know that he will pass on all the gifts you brought out in him to help empower many others over his lifetime.”
A Spark Ignited: Xanthippi Anastasiadou
Xanthippi Anastasiadou is a music teacher at a primary school in Thessaloniki, Greece and
Master’s student at the University of Macedonia.
A full year after participating in PYE’s Creative Facilitation training in Greece, she reported, “I use all of the tools I learned with my students—group songs, rhythm exercises, everything!
At the end of last year I used the ‘poetry process’ with the students where they wrote a poem, we set it to music, and they performed it for their parents. The parents were so impressed.
These tools bring out my creativity and the creativity in my students, and they love them. I have even run a “mini” Creative Facilitation session with my colleagues. There is huge potential for schools to be more creative, and Creative Facilitation is so important to this.”
If you want to give yourself a blast of hope and inspiration, click here to hear more stories like Cecilia’s.
Photo Credit: Marty Oppenheimer
IndigenEYEZ Trainer Warren Hooley at Camp Confluence
In May we held our very first “Camp Confluence” – a 5-day gathering that brought camp managers and facilitators from six organizations that lead Creative Community-based Camps for teenagers in the Pacific Northwest, USA. We met at a conference center on the shores of Whidbey Island, just north of Seattle. The Confluence was both a reunion and a reboot for the 40 participants who spent five days reflecting on the camp experience and increasing their skills to provide even deeper impact.
Exploring ways to raise awareness about equity at the camps sat at the heart of the Confluence. “Learning from people different than yourself” has been a core goal of camps since the first Power of Hope in 1996. And evaluations show that young people successfully develop the ability to embrace differences when they are back in their schools and communities. But there was a consensus that we can go further by addressing issues of equity more directly at camp. The idea emerged to work with an additional camp goal that reads: “Be Aware of Equity” or “Build an Equitable Community,” thus opening the door to deeper discussions around these issues. We are looking forward to hearing what all six organizations learn at their camps this summer.
Rich with opportunities for creative expression, the confluence produced the same life-giving effects that camp does for young people. “I have never in my life experienced such a transformational few days. I came back into my home life and career with renewed enthusiasm and completely restored optimism!” said Carrie Besko, administrator for IndigenEYEZ, an organization that serves First Nations communities in British Columbia, Canada. “Confluence provided a wonderful opportunity to create and play and sing and dance with other folks committed to social action,” reflected Lucy Kingsley from the Culture Jam camp in Oregon.
One thing this Confluence made clear, meeting face-to-face, even very occasionally, brings new depth and creativity to our shared work. “Our world is evolving so quickly, I’m deeply grateful that this community is here to listen deeply and respond with the urgency, love and hope that’s found when creativity and resolve come together,” said Dan Peters from Power of Hope Canada. We plan to keep the community strong on-line and to hold a Camp Confluence every other year!
Thank you to the organizations that participated: Power of Hope Canada, IndigenEYEZ, Power of Hope US, Young Women Empowered, Culture Jam, and Camp Lead.