Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Children’s Matters: Not Throwing Away Your Dreams

By Jamie Lyon KCYA artist and Community LINC Volunteer

My name is Jaime Lyon, and I am a freelance visual art teacher that celebrates the creative process while emphasizing and encouraging self-esteem, self-awareness, and confidence. I’m fortunate enough to be a teaching artist at Kansas City Young Audiences. KCYA has partnered with Community LINC where I currently teach a residency art class. These monthly classes include a variety of projects ranging from self-portraits, masks, journals to handcrafted shields and vision boards.

One of my recent vision board classes was broken up into two sessions. Our first evening included flipping through magazines in hopes of finding images that captured the student's dreams and goals. These pictures ranged from fancy cars to simple cartons of milk. Not every student was finding the perfect photos so I had them tell me specific dreams I could find online and I promised them I would print photos to bring for our second session. I loved learning the dreams of these hopeful and amazing kids aged 9-17. Some dreams included nice homes, sports cars, high school diplomas, college degrees, friendships, happy family members, careers, candy, pets and so much more. As I wrote down their dreams and images to research, we talked about the importance of a dream and how we have to set goals to achieve our dreams. We talked about hard work, resiliency and accountability.

Our second session was very productive. The students gathered all of their images and glued them to a poster board. Some had twenty items to glue some had three. We celebrated their individual creations while continuing our conversations of gratitude, worthiness, and achievements. I found myself drawn to a 17-year-old girl who had worked intently and quietly on her vision board. She laid out her pictures and wrote captions under every item. She had big dreams! She wanted to finish high school and graduate with honors and then go to college and become a very successful business woman. She would then have a beautiful home with a huge pool and guest house. She wanted happy friends in her life and a healthy family. She also wanted to maintain a good relationship with her Mom. She said her Mom was very important to her and she always wanted her in her life.

As we wrapped the class this gentle soul told me to just keep her vision board; she said she didn’t want it! It broke my heart. This sweet child had spent two full hours visualizing, dreaming, setting goals and making plans! She was so close to believing her dreams could come true. But just like that, she was willing to throw it all away… LITERALLY. She didn’t want this vision board, which represented a VERY BRIGHT FUTURE. Her shoulders and head sank as she began to walk away. I stopped her from leaving and pleaded with her to PLEASE reconsider. “Please take this vision board home and display it proudly. See your dreams every day. Share these dreams with your Mom. She’ll want to see your future!”

With slight reluctance, she kept the vision board.” I was relieved as she left with it in her hands!  After the students had been gone and the room was clear I hoped this lesson would help these amazing kids realize their potential. As I was leaving, I saw the young lady who almost threw her art away speaking with her Mom. She was showing her the very masterpiece she had almost let go. Her Mom, who had clearly been at work all day, was wiping the tears from her face. Her mom was so emotional and so very proud of her. I introduced myself and told her about our lesson and how amazing I thought her daughter was. The tears kept flowing as she complimented her daughter for her creation and me for the lesson. They embraced as they continued to review the vision board. Her mom was excited to see a bright future for her daughter. She even joked that she would love to live in her daughter’s guest house. It was a very moving moment. I think the student was glad she didn’t throw her vision board away. Her mom insisted they hang it up in the living room where they could both enjoy visualizing their future! That is Inflated JOY! Wow, I love what I get to do! Who will you encourage today?

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