Touch Someone Who…

Yesterday at CAS training we worked on compliments, one aspect of giving and receiving honest feedback. Compliments are difficult to receive, especially for women it seems to me.The Chrysalis After-School mentors and facilitators discussed the kinds of compliments we like to get–about our work, being on time, and those we are not so fond of–our looks, the back-handed kind, those that draw unwanted attention.

This processing activity, adapted from Michelle Cummings at Training Wheels, is a nice way to show appreciation to others, even though it is done silently and anonymously. It’s a very moving closing activity and should be done in complete silence.

Materials Needed: Deck of Playing Cards


  • Divide the group into 3 or 4 smaller groups by having them choose a playing card (heart, diamond, club, spade). They should look at their cards but not show it to anyone else. Make sure you have equal numbers of each suit to pass out.
  • Have the group sit comfortably around the room, either on the floor or on chairs, so there is space for to walk around.
  • Ask everyone to close her eyes. They should keep their eyes (and mouths) closed for the whole activity. Explain the activity while everyone is sitting with their eyes closed.
  • Let them know that you will ask each group at a different time to open their eyes and stand. Then you will read a statement, beginning with “Touch someone who…” The standing group will then quietly walk around and gently touch the arm or shoulder of someone for whom the statement applies. Again, there should be no talking. This is a silent and anonymous activity.
  • Give enough time for the standing group to touch a number of others before reading the next statement. Come up with at least 3-6 unique statements for each group. After each group finishes its last statement, ask them to return to their seats and close their eyes. Wait for them to settle before you ask the next group to open their eyes and stand. Repeat with all the small groups. Allow a minute or two of quiet reflection after the last group returns to their seats.

Examples of Statements:  Touch Someone Who…

  • you’d like to get to know better
  • you think is a good leader
  • inspires you
  • you appreciate
  • you look up to
  • you admire
  • you trust
  • you wish you knew more about
  • makes you laugh
  • communicates well
  • is a positive influence
  • works well with others
  • you have learned from
  • you enjoy being around

Discover Creativity

I listened to Speaking of Faith this morning while I did yoga. I use this routine to focus on spirituality and fitness; it’s easier for me to meditate when I’m moving! This week’s podcast was titled “Fishing with Mystery” and James Prosek said that creativity is our gift from the Creator. Discovering our own creativity and expressing it is a form of worship. From there my mind wandered back to the workshop Rachel Rockwell facilitated for Chrysalis After-School facilitators and mentors yesterday.

She worked with us on creating paintings and stories in the safe, respectful environment of Culture Inc. Afterward, one of the facilitators said she always becomes anxious when she is in a situation where she has to create. I think a lot of people feel that way, as we have had the products of our creativity judged and sometimes gotten little support.

I think it might help me to use James Prosek’s metaphor of connecting to the creative pipeline when I sit down to create. At times, I’ve experienced that connection when I’ve painted, written grants, facilitated groups. I think it comes more from letting go than from trying really hard. And again, it’s a process and learning experience.

Then there is the discipline required for creativity; I’ve found I need order. Stephen King requires himself to write 2,000 words each day before he does much else. The Artist’s Way recommends morning pages–two pages of writing first thing in the morning in a stream of consciousness mode.

So creativity is a sum of at least two parts–tapping into the pipeline and discipline–available to most of us.

Celebrate Justice!

“I do believe there are gender and ethnic stereotypes that propel people to assumptions about what they expected me to be,” these words from Sonia Sotomayor, our newest Supreme Court Justice, encapsulate the reasons for Chrysalis After-School. Girls need to overcome those assumptions and women need to challenge them!

So many articles have been written about how she has overcome her origins. But I wonder if those origins have actually helped her become the person she is.Certainly the injections required to survive juvenile diabetes taught her discipline. Her childhood in a Bronx home raised by her widowed Latina mother, taught her independence and gave her strength.

The Perry Mason television show inspired her to become a judge; she realized the judge was the most important person in the courtroom. That’s what she wanted to be. Patience and determination to survive law school, the prosecutor’s office and the federal approval process are certainly traits that any woman must learn to break the invisible barriers to achievement that still exist.

Create Meaningful Advisory Structures

Providing opportunities for making choices and speaking out are critical components of positive youth development programs. But it’s challenging to do this with a large group of kids who may want to go in 30 different directions. Here are ideas from a gallery activity at the 2008 Chrysalis After-School Facilitator Training for creating meaningful advisory structures with young people–

  • Rotate teams
  • Form committees & facilitate meetings with adults
  • Let everyone who wants to advise be involved
  • Facilitate activities that work toward group goals and objectives
  • Vary groups across grade levels
  • Provide consistency

See Polk County Conservation Surveys

This program evaluation measures progress of clients toward goals of–

  • deeper respect and connection with nature
  • sharing knowledge and experience with others
  • becoming greener in their behaviors around energy and the environment.

Patrice Petersen-Keys, the other naturalists at Polk County Conservation and I have worked on this during the last couple years, here are links to surveys–

and links to the results