Thanks to Partners for Youth Empowerment, the power of play and creativity is an active, vibrant part of my daily life. My facilitation trainings with Partners for Youth Empowerment inspired me to revision leadership on many levels. Here’s an example of how Partners for Youth Empowerment’s approach informed a project I led this summer.
The project came together through a collaboration with Rita Zawaideh, founder of a Seattle-based humanitarian aid organization called SCM Medical Missions. This nonprofit is focused on the specific task of bringing relief and aid to people affected by conflict and natural disaster within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and to bring people and cultures together to build bridges of understanding.
I assumed a leadership role in designing and implementing a youth service project for 50 church campers at Epiphany Parish of Seattle. I brainstormed with Rita a service project that would benefit Syrian refugees while also being scalable and age appropriate for children from preschool to fifth grade. We decided that collecting and creating hygiene kits to support Syrian refugees would achieve both objectives regarding need, service scope and age.
In the end, these 50 children teamed up to create 100 hygiene kits. But they did more than just meet basic human needs. They also embodied their service with creativity and art to add a personal touch and send a message of hope to the refugee children. The craft room came alive in a whirlwind of excitement as kids used colorful markers, construction paper and glue sticks to paste paper hearts onto paper cut out hands symbolizing love and justice.
These children also drew pictures of their families and included small toys in the hygiene kits to help make a warm, human connection with the Syrian refugee children. Finally, the campers placed an assortment of vegetable seed packets into the kits to provide food sustenance for the Syrian refugee families. In this way, they helped plant seeds of hope nourishing body and soul alike. Ultimately, these children created a group rhythm of solidarity enlivened with the movement of hands-on service.
This is the quintessential element of a group rhythm. It takes a personal narrative and gives it a beat, a pulse and a collective groove. It draws out the humanity in each of us and turns it around to empower others. Thank you, Partners for Youth Empowerment, for teaching me what it means to be part of a tribe to enact positive social change. You have helped guide my steps toward an engaging life of creativity, movement, service and play. May we all find a rhythm that makes life come to life through the joy of movement!
Jennifer DeBusk Alviar is an ordained, interfaith minister who earned her MDiv degree at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. She currently serves as the Seattle Volunteer Coordinator for Doing Good Together. Doing Good Together™ (DGT™) is a nationwide nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to empower families to raise children who care and contribute. When families volunteer together, they teach their children generosity, kindness, compassion and civic engagement. This service-minded practice turns big-hearted kids into strong, future leaders. You can reach Jennifer here and learn more about her other service projects through her recent blog at The Riveter, a co-working space designed for women, work and wellness.