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Being a part of the Building Relationships program has been the most fun and humbling experience. To get to know these kids through their interactions with myself, each other, and the arts has been a gift. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for these two amazing groups of children.

I could tell when I first started at FERN that this was a loving, open, and nurturing environment. Everyone is so dedicated to the well-being of the community as a whole, and I find that kind of thoughtful attention both extremely rare and admirable.

 

Some of what I have learned; sometimes the art activity at the table works really well, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we need to stop what we’re doing and address what’s right here presenting itself before we can move forward. Sometimes we need a snack to get through the first ten minutes of group. This is ALL apart of the process. The fluidity within the structure of the group is what makes it work. The kids can rely on the safety that the structure provides without feeling stifled or fenced in. The result? Happy, calm, and regulated.

One thing that felt particularly important for me was creative freedom in the group. As a performer and deviser of original works, I often have my own visions for how things should look. Over these past few weeks, I have watched the kids become quite attached to their blossoming creations. At times in a more serious, focused, task-oriented type of way, and others a more whimsical, (or de-centering as we call it in expressive arts therapy) kind of way.

I think my favourite moments from this 10-week program were the ones when the kids have overcome difficult learning curves with grace and humility. Using language to explain why I am feeing this way, apologizing when I have hurt someone’s feelings, and acknowledging that yes- it is okay to feel many different emotions at once. The level of vulnerability that has been shown to me has moved me to the core, resulting in large shifts in me as well.

I am excited about how this program will continue to shape and grow in January. I would like to wish everyone at the FERN community a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I urge families to take the time this holiday season to make things with each other- whether it be art, Christmas cookies, or simply memories!

 

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Christina Demunda, Program Specialist