Co_creation a la LYNDSEY

GraceSpace @ CAMP

GraceSpace /  GraceSpace, a yoga and art curriculum for neighborhood pre-teens and teenage girls, met at the Community Arts and Movement Project from March 17 through June 9, 2010.  The weekly meeting, from 5-7pm, included over fourteen girls with a core group of seven regular participants.   The rhythm flowed from circle time, to yoga/dance, to free-writing and healthy snack, and into an art project.  Art explorations ranged from sewing part of “The World’s Largest Picnic Blanket” at a local gallery, to choreographing a dance, to watercolor, to designing, building, and performing the People’s Joy Parade “Pink Dragon”.

This year’s curriculum was full of new explorations.  One surprise highlight was sharing “free write.”  Meant to be a simple journaling and grounding technique to transition from movement to visual art, this time grew as girls wrote about  hot topics and were eager to read their entries aloud.  We frankly discussed sex, violence, and respect as they recounted events of their days.   Students got to feel themselves as active participants in the life of their neighborhood in multiple ways:  as celebrators, leading the parade in a giant sculpture;  as artists, creating a “Collabo-mask” for Peat Wollaeger’s gallery show at All Along Press;  and as entrepreneurs, in a car wash and cupcake sale they conceived of to raise money for their movie night.    We were grateful to go beyond the Cherokee district in a special field trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Whitaker Musical Festival, and (thanks to a special gift)  on an outing to Circus Flora.

The class evaluation survey revealed that the two most valuable aspects of the class for the girls were the calm quiet of yoga learning, and the ability to connect with older/younger friends (“play mamas”).  All girls wished for a continued class offering at CAMP.  Additional funding was sought but declined through Open Meadows Foundation, who wants to see growth in the diversity of CAMP’s board that reflects the constituency.  (So do we!  And are actively extending invitations for participation from African-American mothers and colleagues to grow in this way.)

Overall, GraceSpace matured in many ways from 2009 to 2010 : Collaborative teaching between two paid instructors, expanded the subject matter and the one-on-one connection time.  Partnerships with mothers grew as moms volunteered to bake, chaperone, and advise.   Increased behavior expectations led to more formal start/end time and clearer focus.   “Postive peer pressure” was evidenced in the way that, after a certain girl had been kicked out of class for yelling and rude disruption one day, her friend brought her back after a few hours to support her apology.    A culture of leadership is clearly growing among GraceSpace girls — they  often lead CAMP tours, contribute to workdays, and link the kids on their block to contribute to Operation Brightside cleanup and community garden efforts.

GraceSpace is a positive, nurturing, exploratory environment for young women that directly benefits their own well-being and the health of the neighborhood.

2 Responses to GraceSpace @ CAMP

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About me
Educated as a painter, learning as a yogi, and playful as a baby monkey: I am a willing human being __ emphasis on the Be. I am traveling-learning, designing projects to feed my inquiries while attracting adventures and connecting with tribes that grace my journey with experiential wisdom in creative healing and joyful sustainability. My passions are catalyzing radically simple + beautiful + fun intentional community, sparking spontaneous collaborative singing and dancing, acroyoga, permaculture, and loving children.