Thursday, July 06, 2006

More of what I learned in Mississippi

Carrying on from the July 4th blog about the things I learned in Mississippi, another thing I learned in Mississippi is that generosity encourages creativity and creativity encourages the human spirit no end! These paper puppet people were made from the generous donations of collage materials, papper, markers, and embellishments from artists and art therapists from all over the planet, having responded to internet requests for materials after Katrina. The folks that in these workshops were truly delighted with the space, time, and materials to once again find that playful, creative aspect of themselves which they may have lost touch with in the months following this hurricane. Everyone agreed that this experience of reconnecting with this sense of possibility was much needed.

In Gulfport we did the same workshop in the morning with children and staff, and in the afternoon with staff only. In the morning each child was pared with an adult mentor. The children all seemed to blossom with the activity of creating paper puppet people and the story books that went with the puppets. With simple directives the children found an environment for their puppet, a gift or symbol of a talent of strength for their puppet, and then a foe or problem that their puppet needed to solve. The last page of the 8 page book was devoted to the resolution of the problem. At the end of the workshop there were wonderful puppets and a healing tale for each puppet. Each puppet had a difficulty that was resolved. There's something to be said for listening to a number of stories with repeated themes of strength, hope, and resilience. By the end of the work shops I had certainly got the message, we are strong, we are resilient, and hope remains alive.

As one little boy was creating his collaged environment, he discovered this phrase on the back of one of the pictures he had selected: "Wake up boys, today we climb!" He repeated this phrase several times so I asked, "Should it be in the book?" "Oh, yes," he said with glee! When it came time to tell their stories, and it was his turn to read what he had written, he started with "Wake up boys, today we climb."

And climb they did, each one of them!

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