Friday, February 19, 2010

Bookin' Feet

I've been keeping a secret.

Now I'm pretty sure my sister is jumping up and down, shouting, "YOU'RE PREGNANT!"

NO! That's not it.

I've been working on a project for a few months now, and it's finally up and running!

In my career, I often work with women who have really had a rough life. Many times, I've met a woman and realized that she has had so much trauma in her life, prior to her injury, that the recovery process is going to be long and difficult.It makes me angry. As I get to know these women, I realize that from the time they were little girls they've been belittled, put down, demoralized, and some times horrifically abused. That's a lot for any woman to get through. Now, add in all the cognitive and behavioral challenges that can occur with a brain injury, and the struggles can seem almost insurmountable. Often I think, "if some one had paid attention when she was a kid,Maybe she'd have a chance now." It's a thought that has haunted me for a long time. A feeling that we need to invest more energy on our children.

Then, back in the early summer, I started to develop an idea. A concept that combines two things I love. Two things that helped me get through tough times in my life. Reading and running. I started to try to figure out how I could work with young girls, combining those 2 activities, to help girls build their self esteem, find a voice, and increase their self confidence.

The idea: To meet weekly with a group of girls, in 4th through 6th grade. We would use a book with a strong girl as the main character. Each week, our time would be broken into 3 segments.
Warm up games/discussion focusing on a specific theme in the book.
Training- some running and walking. Focusing on getting stronger with the ultimate goal of running a 5K.
Cool down/discussion of how our lives are similar to the characters, or how the book relates to our life.

I met with a woman from the local chapter of "Girls Inc" last fall, and pitched my loosely formed idea to her. She loved it. And "Bookin'Feet" was born! I spent time scouring the library for books with girls as the main characters, who are strong in the face of adversity.

The program started 3 weeks ago at our local Girls' inc!

There are 8 girls in this pilot group. I chose the book "Saharra's Special" This week, we will use the book to talk about labels. We'll explore the idea of "Good/bad" labels. I want to expose them to a few concepts:
First, to challenge the idea of "Good and Bad" and suggest the ideas of healthy and unhealthy.
Second, I want to get them to begin to question if any label is actually healthy, or are they all detrimental on some level.
For the cool down, I will ask them about labels other people have put on them, and labels they put on themselves. Is there a difference between the 2 lists? And, how do the labels affect their behaviors and what people expect of them.

I'm so excited to be developing this program. My hope is that we can find a volunteer to expand the program to the Schenectady branch next year.

I have to add a special thanks to my daughter, Shayna. She has been my sounding board through out the planning phase of this project. She's helped me brainstorm for a name, and has listened to my curriculum ideas. She's been supportive and enthusiastic, and has kept me going. Thanks Shay!!

3 comments:

NP Diva said...

I love you and I am so proud of you and all of the work that you have put in to this program! (I know, I know, I say that all the time, but it's still true-er than ever!!!) ... And I will also repeat, that I think you went into the wrong field of social work... you need to be working with kids.


LOVE YOU!!! <3

Felicia said...

That is amazing! Congrats!!! There should be more people like you in this world!

PennyCandy said...

Heidi,

I didn't think you were having a baby I thought you were coming to Texas.

I wasn't sure this had taken off because you hadn't talked about it much. This is so awesome.

NP Diva she is working with kids, these 8 girls, you, Jack and Mack.

I am so proud of you little sister you are so awesome in so many ways.