This is My Heart is a strength-based, positive, cultural discussion developed specifically with middle school students in mind. This is My Heart examines the social aspects of identity and bi-cultural identity in group discussion and games. The skilled facilitators, Taryn Campbell and Annice Johnson, assist the adolescents in further understanding their identity and answering the prevalent question of the age, “where do I fit in?” This is My Heart also addresses the group dynamics of middle school, including bullying. This is My Heart teaches appropriate, healthy coping-skills to utilize in order for these pre-teens to feel empowered, self-confident, and authentic. Each adolescent will create a self-symbol, an artistic expression of identity, to remind them throughout the year of the skills learned, the positive supportive community of camp, and that they do indeed fit in.
How can you, as parent, continue this important conversation at home?
Be familiar with various types of aggression — even if your pre-teen is not bullied directly, are they facing relational aggression where “frenemies” make passive comments? Or where even good friends make ignorant statements? Know how to support your child in further developing good coping strategies. Modeling your own coping skills will also be monumental in their ability to apply their own. In This is My Heart, they will be presented with the following information:
Coping Skills can be broken into six categories. Not all coping strategies are appropriate for all situations, which is why it is important to build a large repertoire.
1) Distraction; i.e. texting friends, listening to music, playing games.
Distractions give your heart and mind a temporary break. They can help provide immediate relief. Distractions do not resolve any issues and usually can’t be used for too long.
2) Grounding: using your senses to become mindful and present-moment focused.
Grounding helps us slow down and reduces the physiological effects of high emotions, particularly anxiety. Grounding does not work if the present moment feels threatening.
3) Emotional Release: i.e. crying, sublimating anger in a healthy way.
Emotional release allows the pressure of overwhelming emotions to dissipate. However, it is not always appropriate in all situations.
4) Self Care: i.e. relaxation, cook a special meal, giving yourself a small treat.
Self Care is where we show ourselves love, support, and caring. It affirms that we are okay and we are worthy. Sometimes self care can feel difficult to do or feel superficial (but it’s not).
5) Positive Thinking: replacing negative thoughts with positive alternatives.
Positive Thinking is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, where negative thoughts are challenged. This can help change long-term negative thinking habits and increase logical processing of events.
6) Altruism: accessing your higher self.
Being kind to others reminds us that everyone has value, including ourselves.