I have been privileged to work alongside my infectious friend, Ankhet Amber Williams, Founder of The Art of Esteem. Her non-profit organization was created to bridge a gap between the standardized western school curriculum and essential life skill development. The Art of Esteem educates students on building their self-esteem, self-worth, and overall emotional IQ through art, play, and emotional discourse.
As a teacher and a volunteer at The Art of Esteem, I have had the opportunity to leave an imprint in the hearts and minds of our youth. I teach The Art of Esteem’s after-school program which is implemented in various elementary public schools in the metro-Atlanta area. The program enables students to develop their interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.
Affirmations are an integral part of the program. We believe that affirmations can build the esteem of those that recite them. Each class commences and ends with light yoga, focused breathing, and the affirmation: “I am strong and I a worthy (3x). We are strong and we are worthy (3x).” The children are taught lessons on psychology/emotional intelligence while they assert themselves in the daily or weekly art projects, called the Creation Phase.
By the end of each class, the children are encouraged to share their thoughts, feelings, and inspirations for their art. It amazes me what they share. They are full of imagination and light!
TAOE is revolutionary. Its rigorous curriculum challenges social and societal norms. For example, it is popularly believed that children have difficulty grasping a huge amount of information or that things have to be watered down to the max in order for them to digest it. I have found that to be untrue. Children are capable of learning and retaining an abundant amount of information. It is the limitations put on their learning ability that stunts their potential. The students of TAOE are stroked to put their best foot forward and develop strong value systems.
A testimony of mine is where the assistant teacher and I thought that a particular student was not paying attention in class due to his outward rowdy behavior. The lesson that day was on “Emotional Hijacking” which is when our negative emotions take over. The assistant put a spotlight on his behavior and asked him what he thought he should have done in order to conduct himself properly. He responded, “I am sorry. I should have been using my prefrontal cortex instead of my amygdala.” We were flabbergasted.
We assumed that his behavior equated to him not grasping the lesson being taught when in fact he understood it well enough to use it in a perfect example! That experience taught me that children not only learn in various manners but they are capable of absorbing information even if their actions and body language may say the contrary. I learned about the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala last year in premarital counseling. How fortunate for the students to be learning it at 8 and 9 years old.
To learn more or become a volunteer at the The Art of Esteem, please visit https://www.theartofesteem.org/.
Do you volunteer with any organization? If so, how often and what are your tasks?
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