Mini Grant Project: Celebrating Diversity

This month ended our mini grant experience

This month ended our mini grant experience. I am so grateful and thankful to have been chosen as a grant recipient. This was my first time writing and applying for a grant so I am extremely happy that I was able to have this experience. I originally went into this with thinking that I was going to have a partner to help with implementing/executing the project but my partner ended up leaving the agency so I was the main one in charge throughout the majority of the grant. It was very stressful and tiring at times to try to coordinate and plan everything on my own. I did have some support from co-workers for my events in June which was very appreciated as I don’t think these events would have been able to be pulled off without them. The final monthly workshop of dancing to drums was one of the better workshops that we have have throughout the series. The youth seemed to really enjoy it and be engaged. It also had one of our larger turnout of participants for our events. I really enjoyed watching the youth smile and interact with the facilitators. The changes in some of their affect was noticeable throughout the workshops. I hope to be able to partner with these facilitators again at some point. The June events went well overall. I wish there had been more participation and turn out from the youth but otherwise I think it was successful. I definitely had to pivot on half of my original ideas due to lack of participation from the youth. The LGBTQ event with the t-shirt making night and pride event turned into a tie dye t-shirt making night and going to the Palm Beach Pride Market. We had a good turn out for both of these events and the youth seemed to be overall happy and involved during the events. The multicultural event turned into partnering with Jeannette Brown who runs the Utterance Open Mic. Nights. This was to provide an opportunity for any youth who wanted to preform any of the skills they had worked on throughout the year a space to do so. There was one youth who attended and they have been talking about it every since. The Juneteenth event of having people turn in art or photos related to Black Lives Matter turned into attending a Juneteenth concert put on by Spady Museum at the Art’s Garage in Delray. There were no youth that attended but I enjoyed the experience. The Spot Anniversary event stayed pretty true to the original idea of having a lunch type event to celebrate the anniversary of the Spot building at Vita Nova. There were some youth that were able to attend and it was great to have the opportunity to show them the building and have them actually see some of the resources we have available for them in the building. I am optimistic that even though throughout the project there was limited participation that some seeds were planted and some memories were created for the youth. Even if the impact at this time seems small I am hopeful that it will grow over time and a ripple has been made in the water that can possibly turn into a wave. I know that my first grant experience won’t be one that I forget anytime soon.

I recently taught a Drum…

I recently taught a Drum Circle Class at Vita Nova. Everyone learned the basic skills so quickly, leading to a very fluid session. I enjoyed getting to know everyone’s stories and how music played a role in their lives. My favorite moment was when each person shared a song that meant a lot to them; they then tried to duplicate the beat on their drums with everyone else following. I would definitely be open to working with Vita Nova in the future, they are an amazing group of people doing impactful work in our community.

There have been three workshops…

There have been three workshops that have occurred since the first sensemaker update I believe. There wasn’t the turnout of youth that I was hoping for and it has been very hard to get to youth to come to the events. At the beginning of the grant I had another co-worker helping with the grant. They are no longer with the company so that has been an added difficulty as they are not longer they to help with coordinating the events. The poetry event was awesome. It was amazing to work on the community poems. I loved how they all turned out and were each so unique. I have my on my bulletin board in my office. It was such a great way to get insight into some of our youth without having to be serious or have some sit down in depth discussion. It made me feel and I hope it helped others to feel part of a community and valued. To know that someone (hopefully) put thought into what you, then others, had written before adding to your poem was very special. I would have to be able to do this again in the future. This seemed to be the workshop that had the most youth at it and that the youth seemed to enjoy the most. I gave the youth blank notebooks at the end of the workshop and I am really hoping that they will continue to use writing as a creative outlet. The photography workshop went nothing like planned. I wanted to have the youth get their headshots taken and talk about how you can express yourself thought photos, what you can learn about someone through a photo, and how to show your/ help others express their unique personality in a photo. There were only a few youth that showed up and a majority of them did not want headshots taken so the facilitators had to improve and mainly focused on what to do when taking photos of others. The advantage of this was that the facilitators were able to talk about how to get to know the subjects you are photographing and helping them get comfortable and express themselves. I was then able to turn this back to the importance of expressing our true selves. They also were able to discuss the value of capturing organic moments. The monologue event was great. It was a zoom online workshop due to covid numbers being higher at that time. I had accidentally made the event on Eventbrite public for a period of time. We ended up having a youth from Germany join us. It was amazing to see that even though the youth that attended didn’t know each other they were able to seem comfortable with each other in a short period of time. It was such a heartwarming experience to watch them practicing their monologues and amazing to watch them perform them for the group at the end. The next workshop is coming up soon and while I am excited I am also nervous about the attendance. I want to maximize the mini grants funds and help as many youth as I can. I hope that the last three workshops and the events in June have a bigger turn out and that they are able to reach more youth to have as much as an impact on the youth in the county as possible.

My experience of this mini-grant….

My experience of this mini-grant was one where the kids that attended the Theater Appreciation/Monologue Acting Workshop were free to express themselves in their own, unique way. They expressed what they wanted to get out of the workshop, what they came to work on, and what their biggest “take-aways” at the end of the 2-hour workshop. I experienced them experiencing connection with everyone there, a safe and sacred space, creating value through creative self-expression, exploring their passions, and building their experience/expertise and knowledge around that workshop’s topics. We could’ve stayed longer than the 2 hour-window we had set and scheduled for this specific workshop! The participants/kids attending had shown real potential and talent in their self-chosen monologue acting, expressed their gratitude for the workshop and those other participants/kids around them in the workshop as well as myself leading it, and really impressed the adults there including myself with what words they used when sharing from their hearts all the way down to their performances at the end. They exhibited diversity amongst themselves with very different, relatable monologues that resonated with them and performed in their own, beautiful ways often using the word “dynamic” in what they wanted to work on and accomplish in the workshop. Hearing them share what value they created in those 2 hours warmed my heart. I see bright futures for these young actors and would love to do something like this again as soon as possible! The value in building confidence in these kids and connecting with them truly is priceless.

One of the workshops…

One of the workshops that was held called “Eye 2 Eye,” gave participants a chance to reflect on how they perceived themselves in relation to the world around them. The task was to paint an eye, and within that eye, depict the inner “you”. It was an eye opener (pun intended) to see people from differing backgrounds come together and share their amazing artwork as they described themselves and reasoning for why they painted what they painted. Speaking personally, it was a fun and relaxing way to end the day while supporting the growth of others.

Individuals aging out of…

Individuals aging out of the foster care system got to engage in art and music therapy activities. It was amazing to bring these young people together in a creative way to learn coping skills and express and process their experience.

So far the Celebrating Diversity project…

So far the Celebrating Diversity project has been able to conduct the first two workshops of the year long project. As one of the facilitators it has been amazing to see the artwork that that the have created by the youth during the workshops. So far we have been able to discuss topics related to using art to express you inner self and how art can be used as social commentary. During the last project a majority of participants reported that they learned something new about themselves, learned something about expressing themselves through art, and feel that they can express themselves better then they could before the workshop.