“IN A NUTSHELL”
Henry Maier writes for CYC-ONLINE readers ...
Sharing our own projects
It just occurred to me that child/youth care staff may share from time to time with the residents and other staff members the projects that they are doing, the books they are reading, or other personal activities. In this way they can bring the outside world into their center and obtain suggestions from both the residents and staff.
A vivid example you can find in Redl and Wineman's Controls From Within on pages 140-141. Joel Vernick, a careworker, tells of his daily progress at home with a model rocket car he is building. The kids are lively and as intrigued in his account as if they were building the car themselves.
Finally the day arrives when he is finished. As promised, Joel arranges an unveiling ceremony for the youngsters. As the car was brought in, a worker played the wedding march on the piano and a festive occasion followed. The residents were in awe and stayed around admiring the project and the demonstration of the car being launched. None of the children tried to handle the car, but asked if they too could individually build one.
Days of working on a similar project followed.
It seems to me that a careworker could share with a group that he was going to be constructing a rabbit hutch and was urging for kids' pencilled drawings to guide him. The residents would be encouraged to share their ideas for a safe and rabbit-friendly bunny hutch. The worker in response would view their suggestions, telling each kid which of his or her ideas he would make use of. Upon completion he would bring the hutch with its new residents to the home and the youngsters could witness how they had contributed to its construction.
Imagine that, during the weeks of discussion, one youngster had commented that she had heard that rabbits preferred four-leaf clovers to regular ones. This input produced a lively search on the institutional grounds and in the park next door for such clovers. The rabbit owner thankfully accepted those donations and reported periodically about how much the rabbits favored those fresh harvests. At a later date he brought the hutch with the rabbits for a visit. The youngsters were in awe and all excited at seeing their suggestions in use.
As a sideline, the youngsters wanted to build a hutch for themselves and to acquire rabbit pets at the institution. At a subsequent visit to the health department they learned of so many necessary guidelines that they became overwhelmed and gave it up, because, in the words of one youngster, "they want us to build a rabbit country club and all that shit, not a hutch!" !
Almost all were relieved to be freed of so many health and safety rules. Life at the treatment center seemed to be varied and free for a few brief moments.
I hope these accounts may open up new ideas of your own.
Henry W. Maier.