Headquarters for the Soul
While the March Break week brought us visits from scientists, furry animals, and story making by Mr.LEGO, it was the introduction of ‘ The Gathering Room’ to the kids at FERN that made the most meaningful impact.
We transformed the space of the front room into one of community and art making. With yoga mats, paper and drawing materials set up on the floor, and a Minecraft station, the way was paved for social and emotional growth. We began each morning and ended each afternoon in a circle, passing around a talking stick so each participant/member had the chance to share and ask any questions about the day or week.
The place we named ‘The Gathering Room’ gave participants the space to come back to, acting as a headquarters for the soul. Over the course of the week, the space provided them with comfort and the grounded sense of knowing this place was there for them at the beginning and end of each day. What started out as an unfamiliar concept became a gentle and consistent reminder of their value and worth to our group and to FERN.
One of our ultimate wishes for our students is that they come to a place where they are able to engage with others and move through moods successfully. ‘The Gathering Room’ provided many opportunities to be guided in that direction, through relationships.
Ideas were more easily shared because the space was given to do so. We listened to one another, showed mutual respect, breathed together, and honoured each other’s thoughts, feelings and ideas. FERN is a place where our students tend to feel safe and accepted, and the environment at our March Break programming strengthened those feelings. Their expectations for themselves rose and were met beautifully. It was touching to witness the moments when a child recognized and acted upon his or her capabilities, without limits.
Our culminating project, created throughout the week, was a series of paper mache clouds. The inspiration came from the idea that clouds reflect the unique personalities and shifting moodsthat come in and out of FERN each day. Just like clouds, our students are growing, changing and possess their own set of qualities, none the same.
We are grateful for the personal and group connections formed through March Break at FERN. We look forward to seeing into their ongoing development and personal journey.
Karen Stern, O.C.T.
FERN Special Education Teacher