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May 25, 2021

Stronger Me, Stronger We — Mind in the Making: Team Fearless…Small but Mighty

Shalia Moore-Hayes, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

art exampleTeam Fearless was a small but mighty group. Led by facilitators Joni Hansen and Shalia Moore-Hayes, the team included two early childhood teachers, each with over 25 years of teaching experience, a teaching artist who uses creativity and origami as her art form, and a first-time mom who was soaking up all the gems given during the workshop. Since Stronger Me Stronger We — Mind in the Making is a one-hour workshop format, the time spent with Team Fearless was concise but valuable and engaging.

In addition to sharing their own knowledge, experience, and child-friendly tips, there were also opportunities to ask questions which primarily came from the first-time mom. All the participants understood that it can be overwhelming, exhausting, confusing, and sometimes a bit embarrassing to ask questions as a new mom. Still, the team welcomed all queries and gave practical and meaningful advice and tips that connected with the life skills shared in Mind in the Making. This made the new mother feel heard and acknowledged, and she promised to use the tips and activities shared during the workshop.

One of my favorite memories with this group was during the session on communication. Two participants each spoke two different languages and shared a statement in each language. One participant spoke Japanese. Her sentence was, “I saw the ocean big and blue.” The other spoke Portuguese. Her sentence was, “My son is my happiness.” The team had a fun time figuring out what was said using non-verbal cues.

After four engaging sessions, the team welcomed teaching artist Freda Williams to lead us in an art integration experience for the last session. Freda’s session with the team was on communication, and it connected genuinely to the team’s discussions. Freda shared an activity called personal museum. She asked each participant to take five minutes to curate a personal museum of identity through object selection, design, placement, and storytelling. They assembled an array of items that communicated things about them. It was impressive to see everyone attractively display their collections in all sorts of ways. Freda also provided the team with feedback questions that were used when each person shared their museum. These included statements such as “I noticed,” or “It makes me feel,” and “I wonder.” The activity was not only fun but also a time to learn more about each participant. It was fascinating to see some of the collections, including pictures, decorative items, an Elvis poster, a Snoopy card, teapots, and so much more, each with a special meaning to the participant. This activity prompted much discussion and connections among everyone.

When it was time to say goodbye for now, Team Fearless all agreed that although it was a small group, it was mighty!

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