The Case for More Love in Education

By Liz Thorne

I was recently in Austin, Texas for the 6th annual Ready by 21 Annual Meeting. Organized by the Forum for Youth Investment, the meeting focuses on ensuring all youth are ready and prepared to meet life’s demands. It brought together folks in youth development, program quality, education, government and community based organizations all focused on ensuring youth are ready.

A major focus of the meeting was on promoting equity through the lens of readiness as a right. It’s not enough to help young people beat the odds but we need to work with the adults and leaders in communities to change the odds.

Research tells us that just one supportive adult relationship can help buffer young people against risk and help them overcome challenging life circumstances. But let’s zoom out and talk about supportive communities, or as Dr. Shawn Ginwright describes, radical healing.

In his keynote, Dr. Ginwright compared the idea of radical healing to experiments conducted on plants. Researchers would place one plant in a chamber of poisonous gas to test the plant’s response. As you might expect, the plant shriveled and died. But, when the researchers placed multiple, or a community, of plants they didn’t die. Rather, they cleaned the air of the poisonous gas. Together the community of plants garnered their collective strength to change their circumstances.

How can we harness the collective strength of communities to change the odds for youth? During Dr. Ginwright’s address on radical healing, there were three thoughts going through my head as this relates to our work in adolescent and school health:

  • We have to take care of the adults in schools. Youth are often placed at the center of our work. Resources, opportunities, and training must be made available to provide physical, emotional and professional support to the adults that show up every day. Particularly, educators and professionals working in economically disadvantaged schools or communities, and those who have faced generations of trauma and marginalization.
  • We need more opportunities for Participatory Action Research or experiential learning opportunities.  PAR is one way for young people to reach into their community, examine the context and begin to understand and garner their strength as an agent of change.
  • There is room in ESSA for a focus on readiness, but we need advocates in the states. ESSA provides an opening, but we will need to focus on state-level efforts to address social, emotional and physical needs of students and staff in schools. (Check out our ESSA State Plan Page for more information). 
Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Whether you call it a supportive relationship, radical healing or trauma-informed education, to me it all boils down to one thing. More love in education. Showing, not just telling our young people, that they are valued. Demonstrating they are valued by equipping them with the skills to harness their power and change their environment for the better. Dr. Enwright ended his keynote with a quote from Dr. King that I think sums up the relationship between love and power.

 

 


 

 

Next week... SHAPE America, in Boston!

Next week, 5500+ health educators, physical educators, dance educators will be coming together for SHAPE America's annual convention, held in Boston this year. It's not only SHAPE's biggest annual event, but it's March Madness & St Patrick's Day. Let the craziness begin. 5500+ fellow educators creating, learning, facilitating, presenting, sharing, networking and advocating for the whole child. 

The Cairn Guidance team will be there in full force... we will be exhibiting for the Dove Self Esteem Project, booth #519, so come see us for free give aways! We are also thrilled to be sponsoring the General Session on Wednesday morning-

“Creating a Kinder and Braver World”
Maya Enista Smith will discuss Born This Way Foundation’s (founded by Lady Gaga) commitment to supporting the wellness of young people, and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world.  Working together with SHAPE America members, the foundation wants to see a world of people whose decisions and conversations are driven by kindness, acceptance and compassion.

We are presenting the following sessions:
Tuesday, 8am-noon - Systems Changing; Systems Changing simulation: In an engaging skill-building team session, participants will be confronted with realistic decisions and experiences, be compelled to consider new ways of looking at their goals and their work, be challenged to review what they consider legitimate indicators of success, try proven methods for making system-wide changes in their school setting related to their health education, physical education or school health initiative/program, distill their experience into action-oriented learnings and have fun! 
Wednesday, 3:30-5:30pm - Facilitating Role Plays in the Health Education Classroom: Role Playing is an effective skills-based learning strategy in the health education classroom, as it aligns to most of the National Health Education Standards. This session will guide participants through a variety of activities to increase their comfort and confidence facilitating role plays as well as give ideas on how to overcome challenges. Scoring rubrics will be shared aligned to role plays if using as an assessment tool in the classroom.
Thursday, 3-4:15pm - Enhancing Assessment in Health Education: an update and history of the Health Education Assessment Project and how SHAPE America is updating/revising and supporting this resource for teachers.

We have some other commitments- we are sponsoring the health education track and will be doing a 20 minute Dove Self Esteem Demo on Wednesday from 2-2:20 in the Exhibit Hall.

Can't wait to connect with colleagues, friends, cadre members, clients and partners in Boston! 

 

 

 

Cairn Guidance Work Updates

We have just been notified that we will be presenting two sessions in Bend Oregon at the School Employee Wellness Conference in March for OEA Choice TrustJess will share her information on creating sustainable staff wellness programs as well as moderate a panel of school health champions sharing they staff wellness success stories. 

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I don't remember when my first ASHA conference was, but it was at least ten years ago and I think I've attended every year since. The American School Health Association's mission is to transform all schools into places where every student learns and thrives. I'd love for the organization to grow, for all school administrators to put the health and well-being of their school community first in order to see their students' academics improve. However, that's not the world we live in.

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The 2015 Bost Health Policy Forum hosted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky kicked off with a welcome from Kentucky's Lieutenant Governor Crit Luallen. She reinforced the importance of economic vitality, livability and strong communities related to the health of Kentuckians. We heard from a variety of health advocates on topics including education, the built environment, worksite wellness and food systems from Andrew Dannenberg from the University of Washington, Vera Oziransky from the Vitality InstituteMary Gwen Wheeler from 55000 Degrees, and Margo Wootan from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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RMC Health Board Meeting and Healthy School Leadership Retreat

It has been a fantastic week in Vail, Colorado! I feel incredibly fortunate to be on the Board of Directors of RMC Health, a non-profit that serves those working to improve the mental, physical, social and emotional health of children and youth. We had a great Board meeting that included both a business meeting and some strategic planning for the future. 

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Kentucky Association for Health, PE Recreation and Dance (KAHPERD)

For years, I've attended the Oregon chapter of this same organization. It's the professional organization for educators and faculty in school health education, physical education, recreation and dance. It was my first year attending the KAHPERD conference and I was impressed. Sunday kicked off with a free pre-training (about 60 in attendance!) on the Presidential Youth Fitness Program. It is a free program developed to ensure what happens before, during and after the fitness assessment is beneficial for students and teachers and leads to youth who are active for life. 

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American School Health Association Conference

I took full advantage of being back in Portland for the third time in 3 months, this time at the American School Health Association Conference. Being that I just moved from there to Kentucky less than a year ago, there were plenty of people to connect with, but I focused on my own professional development and networking while in downtown Portland.

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