“Our work with kids is designed to build resilience and decrease vulnerability.”
– Kathy Anlauf, Kid Connect Coach
Kid Connect encourages middle and high school students to identify their values using discussion, artistic expression, and humanities-based study. We look at all aspects of community–from school, to home, to neighborhoods–and encourage students to become involved. As we think about barriers to success and power structures, we teach students how to build their own paths. By employing active and creative problem-solving, students can also build resilience against those who may poorly influence them, and build confidence to participate in arenas that may try to exclude them for their “otherness.”
Current Examples of Kid Connect:
Justice Page Middle School
The Justice Page Kid Connect group is led by artists and former educators, Richard Thompson, Chris Fisher, and Kathy Anlauf, and is co-sponsored by the school’s art teacher, Elissa Cedarleaf Dahl. This group’s work culminates with student presentations about “who they are right now” to their school. While the work is done using artistic tools, it is not a theater piece, but a presentation; there is no pressure for the students to act or be anything but their authentic selves, and the format of their expression is a choice. Throughout the program, coaches Chris, Rick, and Kathy observe the students and shape the program around the interests they have voiced.
Acclaimed local photographer, Wing Young Huie, leads Chalk Talks throughout Twin Cities’ middle and high schools and often partners with Heartland schools. Wing believes that much of society’s anxiety and violence is rooted in the belief that people who are different are dangerous. Sighting the ever-present “stranger danger” mantra that parents teach their kids, Wing instead encourages students to learn about people they don’t know and have an “authentic conversation.” He instructs students to ask one another “who are you?,” and points out that it is almost impossible not to be truthful when the question is posed by a stranger in a open-minded space–which he creates in the classroom–where all voices are welcomed and heard. After this truth-telling, students write what they want about themselves, expressing who they are, right then.