Missoula Community School

Mindfulness and Movement Update September 11, 2015

Welcome to a new school year at Missoula Community School! Our first couple weeks of Mindfulness and Movement have been wonderful! Students come into the Aqua Room on Friday mornings (which holds a three year old class Monday-Thursday) for half hour lessons with their small groups. Students who are not here on Fridays get the lessons from their teachers during the week. Throughout the year we will discuss the bell, breathing, our feelings and the importance of showing love for ourselves, others, and the world around us. We also include an element of movement into most lessons too, whether it’s yoga, a movement course, going for a walk or dancing.

Our lesson last week focused on the bell. The bell is used in every classroom throughout the day. Students were introduced to the bell and we discussed what to do when we hear it. We stop, look up at the person who rang the bell, and take a deep breath. Our lesson included a couple games with the bell that the students really enjoyed. A great first day with everyone!

This week, we focused on our breathing. We discussed how our bodies are like the ocean in that we are constantly moving. The way the waves are constant, our breath is constant too. Sometimes calm, sometimes wild. The difference is that we can control our breath in a way the ocean can’t. Students were shown a jar that represented the ocean and we discussed times when our bodies felt calm (sleeping, reading stories) and when we felt wild (parties, when we’re mad). When we feel wild, our minds and breath are like the ocean during a storm (we shook the jar). We can take deep breaths to help calm ourselves down. Next, students were asked to lay down in the classroom and were given an ocean treasure (starfish, seashell) to put on their stomachs. We listened to music and felt the treasure rising and falling on our stomachs like boats on the ocean riding the waves. It was so much fun watching everyone!

Superhero Flower Mission Video

Superhero of Kindness Birthday Video

Our Mindful Moments

This year has been filled with so much love, laughter and learning. Our Mindfulness and Movement lessons have been a mix of some of our favorite lessons from last year, as well as some new ones! At the beginning of the year we focus a great deal on connecting with the breath and discussing what mindfulness means. Once students start to get a solid understanding of how we are going to be spending our time during our Mindfulness and Movement lessons, we start to move on to other important topics.

We learn how to recognize our feelings and learn different ways to take care of ourselves depending on how we feel. We want children to know that all of our feelings are ok and that there is no such thing as a ‘bad feeling’, just feelings that don’t feel as good as others. Some of the techniques we discuss for handling those more difficult feelings include Turtle Time (tucking down like a turtle and taking at least three slow breaths), Rocket Breaths, going to the Space Place, taking a drink of water and deep breathing. We help the children begin to recognize the feelings they have (and learn the vocabulary to express them), as well as helping them learn to recognize how others are feeling.

We put a lot of emphasis on showing love and kindness to all living things. Not only do we want to show others love and kindness, but it’s important to show ourselves love too. We spend time discussing how beautiful it is that we are all so uniquely different and good at different things, but that we all have a heart with feelings too. We focus on helping children recognize their own strengths, as well as the strengths of others through building a community with their peers and working together. We connect with our bodies through the movement lessons we do. We do a lot of yoga, dancing, stretching and obstacle courses. We spend time thanking the different parts of our bodies for helping us do all the amazing things we can do! We also try to help students connect with their community, nature and people around the world through stories, discussions and music. These lessons are so much fun to teach, and such an important part of our school. I am so thankful and proud to be a part of a school that puts such an emphasis on mindfulness, love and kindness. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of what we’ve been learning this year through our Mindfulness and Movement lessons. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

A New School Year

Welcome to a new school year at Missoula Community School! We’ve had a wonderful start to our year. Lots of new faces, and lots of familiar ones. It’s such an honor to be part of such a wonderful community of people. We started our Mindfulness and Movement classes the first Friday of school. Each week students come into the “Aqua Room” aka “The Little Room” with their small groups and teacher(s). We get to spend half an hour together every week doing a specific mindfulness lesson, which usually includes an element of movement as well. The first Friday of each month I will be updating this website with a little information about what we have been doing together! Thank you for taking the time to have a look! 🙂 Feel free to email me if you have any questions! Thank you!!

THE BELL

The bell is a very important part of Missoula Community School. It is used every day. We use it during mindful eating, during transitions to help us focus, throughout the day to be mindful of what we’re doing, and most importantly, to take a deep breath. Every time the bell rings, everybody stops what they are doing, takes a deep breath, and looks up at the teacher who rang the bell. It’s a beautiful thing. 🙂 In Mindfulness and Movement we practiced being aware of the bell (through a freeze dance activity), how to breathe (using the Breathing Ball), and we met Barry the Breathing Bug (a favorite bug puppet of ours). Each child had the opportunity to ring the bell (which is pretty special) and we got to know each other a little bit!

FARM ANIMAL YOGA

Last week I introduced the students to yoga! We begin and end each lesson with a breath together, which is a wonderful way for us to connect as a group and focus on what we’re doing. I read a book titled ‘On the Farm’ to students. Each page introduced a new animal and after we read about it I would show them a yoga pose to do for that animal. After we completed the entire book and every pose was introduced, another teacher read the story and we did the series of poses together. It was a lot of fun and a wonderful way for us to move together and continue practicing our breathing.

THE WAY I FEEL

This week we talked about feelings. I began by asking students how they were feeling, and asked them to try and use a word besides ‘good’ in response. 🙂 We read the book ‘How I Feel’ together and discussed times when we maybe felt the way some of the characters in the book were feeling. After we read the story once, we went through a CD I made that had songs on it that I felt reminded me of each of the feelings we talked about. We discussed feelings such as frustrated, shy, jealous, disappointed, proud and excited. There are a lot of great feelings described in that book, and I think it’s important that we help our young people learn to express those feelings by helping them develop a vocabulary to do so. We talked about how our faces and bodies express our feelings too and I asked them to try and look the way the music made them feel. It was a lot of fun watching their faces express this wide range of feelings. We discussed that there are no ‘bad feelings’ and that it’s ok to feel angry, sad, jealous or happy, because they are all part of who we are.

We’re Back!! With Gargantuan Amounts of Kindness to Spread :)

Hello there, friends!!

Well, it has been way too long since the Superheroes of Kindness officially reported to duty via their blog.  For that, I apologize.  Have no fear, the Superheroes have been very active, bringing smiles and modelling that you are never too young to make a difference in your community.  From fulfilling a service learning project that painted the turtles at a neighborhood water deck to chalking up the sidewalk to say hi to parents, the Superheroes have been going strong.

Except for the occasional blurb, the Superhero blog is used to report the activities of our young superheroes and the community they impact.  The rare occasion has led to a personal story, and this is just that case.  Part of the Superhero philosophy is understanding that everyone comes from their own set of experiences, this providing a base for understanding.  Today’s story is to explain our absence and get you excited for regular blog reports again.

This story starts on World Kindness Day, 2012.  This particular day was extra special to this Superhero.  For the first time, I was moving beyond our school walls to a classroom of kindergartners that housed 5 Superhero alumni to perform an act of kindness.  Not just any classroom, this was my daughter’s classroom.  They were known to be somewhat extra squirmy, but full of heart.  It felt

weird to leave the MCS Superheroes as they found themselves in a fun music circle thanks to a local family of fun musicians, but it was exhilarating to visit so many alum and bringing kindness to another sector of our community.  The day was amazing.  We read a kindness story and made flowers.  Some children made multiple flowers, some added extreme detail to a single one.  All children wore capes, and all children wore an expression showing great pride.  The Superhero alumni were proud to share that this was part of who they were, and folks new to Superheroes of Kindness showed great pride in performing their act of kindness.  They were so excited; many started their mission planning to take their flowers home to their families or neighbors but changed their minds realizing they just wanted to give their handful of kindness away immediately!  Many gave flowers to their PE teacher, principal, secretary, you name it.  In fact, to this day I still have a bouquet on my desk of flowers given to me during this mission.

The experience was extraordinary, and I knew my child was in a school that valued kindness and random acts of kindness.  I went home feeling invigorated.  In true form, as I cooked dinner I started drafting the blog entry for this mission in my mind.  This was the life – still wearing my superhero glow, making the whole cooking dinner with a tired and hungry child seem so much smoother than normal.  Then it came.  The text that let me know my mom was on her way to the hospital in cardiac arrest.  The next several weeks were surreal.  I arrived at the hospital only to have it be abundantly clear I was walking into a room to find my mom had passed away.  We live in the same town, so my daughter had a very close relationship with my mom.  I found myself having to deal with personal emotions, sharing the news and feelings with friends and family, and of course, suddenly working through this with my daughter, a kindergartner.  Not to mention the next morning, yes morning, my brother’s car (right in front of the elementary school) was hit by a drunk driver.  During these few weeks I also had to muster up the ability to finish grad school and totally flop the final round interviews for an award I had worked towards for a couple of months.  This Superhero of Kindness’ heart became drained.  Beyond drained.

Over what has now become almost two years, I found missions with the Superheroes continued to provide invigoration, happiness, and solid footing in what was now a different world.  Performing

acts of kindness just makes the heart strong and missions helped me experience again what it felt like not to feel totally drained, at first for moments and then for longer periods.  It sounds cheesy, but it’s true.  Kindness adds strength one does not think they have.  Everyone around us has a story, a story that helps define them.  Everyone also contains a heart that is open to realizing the difference compassion has in this world.  My cape is always handy, you never know when you may need it.  Although missions continued, and continued in force, the difference these last couple years was we didn’t report it.  Every time I sat down to write I froze, feeling paralyzed,  coming back to that moment when I was drafting the blog to write that evening only to find my world change forever.

Finally, the fear that would overcome me as I would sit to write an entry has started  loosened up.  It’s time for us to inspire each other with how transformative a genuine act of kindness can be.  Over

the next couple weeks we will share some of the Superhero stories that have transpired over the course of what appeared to be their absence.  These Superheroes spread kindness all over the town and filled many buckets while doing so, and boy howdy do they have some stories to tell.

Thank you for listening to this hero’s experience, and giving the Superheroes of Kindness another chance to show you are never too young to make a difference in your community.

Here is to a great year filled with kindness!!

Cheers,
Kristal

(Aka Superhero of Kindness Shenanigan Bringer)

 

Comments for this post:

Loving your pictures and the simple and beautiful way you have put your story across – you’re an inspiration and I am following your journey – awesome work!

We’ve been busy!

We have had an amazing fall here at MCS during our Mindfulness and Movement. Students have been learning so much and it’s been really wonderful seeing how much they’ve grown over these last couple months. It’s been such an adventure and a wonderful opportunity working with these children every week.  Listed below I will give you a brief overview of all the lessons we’ve done this fall! Please feel free to ask any questions, or if you’d like more information on any of these activities, please comment on the blog entry or e-mail me at johnju01@gmail.com. Thank you!!

Week 1- The Bell- An introduction to the bell, how it is used in the classroom, and what we should do when we hear it.

Week 2- Breathing- Students learned how to regulate and practice breath control, as well as learn how to take deep, slow breaths. We used the ocean as a metaphor for our breathing and discussed how we can control the ‘waves’ with breathing.

Week 3-  Mindful Eating- The children were introduced to Mindful Eating and how to be mindful of what we are eating, when we are eating. This lesson was done using carrots and discussing how they went from the earth, to our mouths.

Week 4- Mountain Hike Yoga Story and Turtle Time- Students were told a story through a series of yoga poses and retold the story doing the yoga themselves. We also met Tuck the Turtle, who introduced us to Turtle Time (a pose we can get in when we have big feelings and take three (or more) slow breaths to help us calm ourselves down).

Week 5- The Way I Feel- This lesson helped students learn to recognize the many different feelings we experience, identify them by name, and helped them understand that ALL feelings are ok! We explored these emotions through music and art.

Week 6- ‘Peace Is…’ & Intro to Brain Gym- Students discussed what they think the word ‘Peace’ looks like and feels like and what that means to them.  We created a community art ‘peace’ (pictured above) on this day. We read ‘The Peace Book’ by Todd Parr during this lesson. We also had a brief introduction to four Brain Gym movements that can help us wake up our minds and focus.

Week 7-  I Love Me!- Students learned the importance of loving themselves for exactly who they are. We went around and had each child share something they loved about themselves. We read the book ‘Little Cloud’ by Eric Carle and discussed how we are all different and that that’s what makes the world so wonderful. They each received a small white ‘I Love Me’ cloud (cotton ball) to help them remember this.

Week 8- Breath Control and Loving Others- We learned how to control our breathing (especially when we’re upset) using a couple fun activities including straw breathing and taking ‘Feather Breaths’. We also read ‘Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun’ and discussed the importance of showing kindness to EVERYBODY, even if they don’t always show kindness to us, they have a heart with feelings too and may just need to feel loved.

Week 9- Yoga- Students learned what yoga is and how it benefits our minds and bodies. They were introduced to new poses, as well as review the yoga story poses from Week 4. We used a book called ‘The ABCs of Yoga for Kids’ and did the poses that corresponded with the first letter of each child’s name.

Week 10- Thankfulness- This lesson focused on increasing awareness of all the things and people in our lives that we can be thankful for. We created Thankful Branches that went along with the story ‘Giving Thanks’. I told every child that I was thankful for them, and had them each tell me something they were thankful for and wrote it on the back of a small circle with their name on it. I added the names to the branch and they are now hanging in each classroom.

Week 11- A Quiet Place- Students were taught how to find ‘A Quiet Place’ in their minds, even when the world around them is chaotic at times. We discussed the Space Place and it’s purpose in our classrooms and homes. I read the story “A Quiet Place’ to the children and we imagined what our own quiet places looked and felt like. We drew a picture of these places and shared them with one another.

Week 12- Movement Obstacle Course- Students used their bodies to move through an obstacle course that was set up in a large room on the second floor. Students crawled, somersaulted, bear walked, frog hopped, rolled and danced their way through the course. We had a lot of fun!

Week 13- Better to Give, Than to Receive-  We discussed what it feels like when someone ‘fills our bucket’ and how wonderful it makes us feel. It is more important to help others feel this sense of joy than try to find it for ourselves. We created a gift (art) to give to someone to make them feel loved. We don’t always need to give people something to fill their buckets, sometimes all they need is a kind word, a smile, or a hug, and when we fill someone else’s bucket, it fills ours a little too. 🙂

I appreciate you all taking the time to look through all the exciting things we’ve been doing since school started. I am having so much fun and am learning so much from every child who walks through the door. Thank you for raising such wonderful young people… See you in January!! 🙂

Mindfulness and Movement

Welcome back everyone! 🙂  Some of you are returning for another wonderful year at MCS, and some of you may be new to our community, either way, we’re so glad you’re here! As the new Mindfulness Coordinator, I feel very fortunate and privileged to be in this position, and am excited to build on our already amazing Mindfulness program. This year we are growing even more, and will be adding a Movement aspect to our Mindfulness curriculum. Students will be spending half an hour on Friday mornings in the Aqua room with me learning about mindfulness, as well as getting the chance to move their bodies through yoga, creative movement and dance. For students who do not attend on Fridays, the lessons and materials are shared with all of our amazing teachers, and they will be working with your children throughout the week to provide them with the same experiences and activities we are working on during our Friday Mindfulness and Movement classes. I am so unbelievably excited for this school year and would like to share with you what we’ve been working on these first few weeks of school in Mindfulness and Movement (M&M).  I apologize that this post is a little long, but there’s lots to catch you up on! 🙂

Our first week we focused on ‘The Bell’. If you read the post below titled ‘Inviting the Bell’, you will find out how important the bell is in our school, and how beneficial it is to work with children using the bell as a powerful tool for breathing, self-regulation and bringing them into the present moment. During our Friday M&M lesson, I introduced students to the bell. We discussed what we do when we hear the bell (stop, take a deep breath, and look at the person who rang it). We practiced this a couple times, then I introduced Barry the Breathing Bug (a big, green, bug puppet). I explained to students that Barry loves to take big breaths with his friends because it helps him feel calm and peaceful. We took a breath with Barry and I asked them to watch if his body moved when he took a breath. They noticed that he did move, and I had them take another breath to see if their bodies moved too. We talked about what happens in our bodies when we take a deep breath (our lungs fill with air and expand, then get smaller as we breathe out). To demonstrate how this works, I used an expanding sphere ball, which we called, ‘The Breathing Ball’. The students seemed to really love watching the ball move as they were breathing. Next, we played a game called ‘Hiding Bell’ where students hid their eyes and I hid in the room and rang the bell. They then sat up and listened carefully to where they thought the sound was coming from and pointed in that direction. I came out of hiding to see if they were right, it was a lot of fun! We ended our day with doing some Freeze Dance. This version included some directions to help get their hearts beating (frog jumps, bear crawl, hopping, jumping jacks, apple jumps (jumping high to try and reach apples way up high in the tree), and free movement). When they heard the bell, they stopped, took a breath, and looked up at me. 🙂 We did this a couple times, then, we boogied on until our time was up! We ended with a couple more breaths with Barry! It was a fantastic first week!

The second week of Mindfulness and Movement we reviewed The Bell, and focused more on ‘Breathing’. I created an ocean in a very large glass jar (sand, rocks, sea glass, a sea turtle, and some blue water of course). 🙂 We discussed that this was the ocean and I demonstrated (by moving and shaking the jar) how the ocean can be calm, and that it can also be wild. We are a lot like the ocean, we too can be calm and wild, but the difference is that we can control whether we are calm or wild. A way that we can do this is through breathing. We talked about what it looks like and feels like when we take a deep breath. Our chest doesn’t move a lot, but our stomach moves out and in as we breathe. Students then laid down on the floor and were asked to rest their hands on their stomachs. I rang the bell a couple times for them to feel whether or not they could feel their stomachs moving up and down as they breathed. I explained to them that this was a lot like the ocean, calm waves rising up and down as they breathed in and out. I gave them each a small stuffed animal to ride in a boat on their oceans. I played the harmonica slow and calmly while they breathed slow and calmly as the animals on their stomachs went up and down on the waves, but if the music changed to fast and quick, they changed their breathing to do the same. It was a lot of fun, and a great way to introduce breath control and deep breathing!

Last week we learned about ‘Mindful Eating’. Mindful Eating is something we do in every classroom, every day at lunch time at MCS. We take a deep breath with the bell, and often times teachers will give students a prompt (What vegetables do you have in your lunch? What colors do you see in your lunch today? What is the crunchiest item in your lunch?). Then students have a few minutes to sit silently and think about what they are eating. Where did it come from? How does it taste? What is the texture like? After a few minutes we ring the bell again, take a breath, and discuss what we were thinking about, and maybe even what we’re thankful for in our lunches. For our M&M lesson on Mindful Eating we focused on carrots. We began by reading the book ‘The Carrot Seed’ and discussing gardens and what goes into making things grow from a seed, into food. I had a mini garden that I used to demonstrate planting the seeds, the sun shining (a yellow ball), and the rain falling (a wet, blue, cloud-shaped sponge that I squeezed over the garden). We learned how much work and energy go into growing one carrot, planting it, caring for it, picking it, shipping it, packaging it, and delivering it to a grocery store. Some families have gardens and can eat things right out of their gardens, but in the winter time, we can’t grow our own food as easily in Montana. So, our families pick out healthy foods for us at the grocery store and it’s amazing to think about that whole process from seed, to our mouths! I then gave students a slice of a fresh carrot. We looked at it closely, paying attention to the color and design, Next we felt it. Was it slimy, smooth, rough, wet? We then smelled it. Was it fresh, sweet, spicy? After that, I had students hold it up to their ear. Could they hear their carrot? No. 🙂 Then, I had them take a bite… could they hear it now? Yes! 🙂 How did it taste? What was the texture like? Were their teeth and tongues working hard to chew and swallow that bite? Could they still taste it after it was swallowed?  Next I gave them a slice of another carrot (a baby carrot), and I asked them to explore it on their own first using their senses. When I rang the bell, they took a deep breath and tasted that carrot. This was Mindful Eating. 🙂 They were eating quietly and thinking carefully and intentionally about what they were eating. After a few minutes I rang the bell again and had them take a breath and share what carrot they liked better and why? It was really amazing to hear them use such descriptive words. This lesson was such a blast, and I invite you all to try some Mindful Eating at home too!

As I mentioned, not all posts will be this long, and I appreciate you taking the time to read up on what we’ve been doing! I’m so excited to be working with all of your amazing children! Please contact me if you’d like any more information on the lessons we’ve been doing. This week in M&M, a ‘Yoga Mountain Hike’ in our classroom! Thank you for reading! 🙂

Self-Regulation Comes From Inside

One goal for all children is to help them learn self-regulation skills.  This is true whether you are a teacher (of any age) or parent.  Whether working with my classroom or with my own daughter, my self-regulation goals are two fold.  First there is the goal of self-regulation in the moment, which can stem from the child’s needs or your very own to get through the moment.  Second is the goal of self-regulation that is more long term.  The teacher or parent vision of the future, of what the particular self-regulation skill looks like in the end and then breaking it down into specific skills that can be taught now.  We all now that no matter how free you want your child to be or their spirit naturally leads them to be, there are times that call for self-regulation.

If you really take a close look at how self-regulation is taught, it does not always make sense.  Take a school circle for example.  The goal is to have children sitting fairly still, listening, while still actively engaged and participating.  Often children are told what that looks like (the ever famous phrase ‘circle body’), but when you really think about it, this really isn’t teaching them self-regulation.  Their minds are still going, bodies often going, and rarely (or so it seems) are children taught how to regulate from the inside out.  Learning self-regulation skills should begin by learning that you, yourself, can control your own body.  And to do that successfully, not to mention consistently, we need to know how to regulate starting from the inside.

After learning about big emotions, children began learning just this.  That they control their bodies just as I control my own.  Children also began learning ways they can do this and then participated in many games, activities, and all around fun times allowing them time and space to practice.  “It all starts with the breath” children learned.  Different techniques can be employed, but rely on taking that deep breath.  The one that goes in your nose and out your mouth, and that you feel moving way to the bottom of your belly.  Children may have had a chance to get silly, sometimes even a bit wild, but the games could only keep going if when the time came (when the sound of the bell rang through the room) they could regulate their bodies and practice the day’s technique.  (Well, let’s be real here, if they could show that they were trying to regulate their bodies 🙂 ).

Throughout the weeks, children learned different things they could do alongside their breath.  Maybe it was to watch glitter fall in a mindful jar, or tuck in like a turtle, or take three deep breaths and check in to see if they need more.  Whatever method it was, children started showing greater ability when getting excited or stimulated and slowing themselves down – by themselves.  When asked, “Who controls your body?”  the children are always very happy to respond, “Me!”

A Birthday Food Drive

Well, friends, it is that time of year.  The point in the year in which the Superheroes of Kindness celebrate their birthday, and one of those times in the year the city of Missoula really sees that no one is ever too small to make a difference in their community.  The Missoula Superheroes of Kindness celebrated their second birthday the only way they know how, by rocking the annual school food drive.  The food drive was the first act of kindness that the Superheroes took on, with only seven children doning capes (although there were 19 children delivering food).  This fine celebration saw 50 children, ranging in ages from 3-5. doning capes and walking seven wagons of food to their local food bank.  And trust me, we could have used more wagons as they were very full and very heavy to pull!

The food drive started two weeks ago.  The oldest and some of the youngest children in the school made signs saying, ‘Food Drive’, to mark the boxes that were going to wait to be filled and to put on tables and in a display to help children and parents see what we were doing.  I wish very much I had a picture of one of these signs.  I will have to bop into the school tomorrow to take a picture of one as so much hard work and care went into making these fantastic signs.  Once the signs were made, boxes were disbursed throughout the school to collect donations.

Last spring the Superheroes of Kindness were the recipients of a donation from a fan of the Superheroes.  Our friend, Jolene, won a drawing in which she was given a debit card to donate to a cause of her choosing, a Pay it Forward even Washington Corporation was engaging its employees in.  Jolene’s name was drawn, and she chose the Superheroes of Kindness to ‘pay it back’ to.  This donation has helped us do a few good deeds.  But this time around, it helped us truly help the children see the possibilities presented when giving to someone.  Many of the children at school were able to participate in a field trip to the neighborhood grocery store.  The Orange Street Food Farm has gotten to know us, and as children piled through the grocery store over a course of a few different days, the employees greeted the children with a smile.  Teachers talked to the children about intentional giving; taking a moment to think about why we are giving food and how we want to give things we love and want to share with others.  The children were given a ticket rarely given to a young child- free reign in a grocery store!  The children were very excited to think about foods they want to share with others, and foods that would keep healthy eating in mind.  One child was set on lasagna.  Yep, lasagna.  We gathered what materials we could.  Each child had a reason for choosing the food they did.  And no child asked about the food at the end of the day, wondering if it was theirs to take home.  They were ready to share!

The children followed their own example from last year, and asked their neighbors for help.  One of the most special things that has come from the Superhero program has been both children and adults using each other as models, as well as using each other to inspire the other and work together.  Children decorated a note and/or grocery bags.  The note asked neighbors to help again this year by leaving food out on a designated date.  The goal was not just to help the Superheroes food drive, but to work as a neighborhood to support the Food Drive which is itself one of our neighbors.  More children hit the streets this year, and the neighbors responded.  Tears were brought to my eyes as I watched one neighbor walk his overflowing, heavy bag out to the children’s wagon.

Many children also participated with their parents choosing to bring food from their cupboards or to choose food together at their own grocery shopping adventure.  Parents helped keep their child’s important role by letting them help put the food from the box/bag they brought in to the school into their classroom’s box.  Some classes sorted food.  Some classes talked about what kinds of food we were gathering.  Others tracked if the food was canned or other.  Children were not just looking at a collection of food, but working to understand what the food meant.

On December 18th came the day of the delivery.  It was a couple days after our official birthday, but hey, parties often fall on different days :).  Seven wagons were filled with food, I mean at their max capacity.  Luckily we had two extra wagons arrive that morning!  First thing in the morning, all of the children in the school caped up.  We are talking about 50 children and a dozen adults!  Each group was responsible for a wagon, and for sharing turns in pulling the wagon.  Not an easy feat.  The entire group walked the two and a half blocks, then down the ally, to the back door of the Food Bank.  A former MCS parent opened the garage, and helped us begin unloading.  Each child was in charge of emptying the wagon they brought to the Food Bank.  They had to be so very careful when putting the food in the collection box.  We are not the tallest of donators, and we had to work very hard not to throw the food into the box but carefully drop it, at least until the pile grew enough for us to start placing it in.  Groups took turns, waited patiently before and after, and the pile continued to grow.

When all was said and done, we had collected 600 pounds of food!  Now, this is no easy feat for anyone.  But to give it some perspective, our first year we collected about 360 pounds, last year about 500 pounds.  These young Superheroes of Kindness not only beat their previous collections, but engaged the community and their own parents while doing so!  This year we also had a guest visitor, Flat Isabella.  She came all the way from Illinois to participate in her first Superhero Food Drive, and she doned a smile along with her cape the whole way.  She is definitely going to have many stories to share when she returns home!

The Superheroes are very thankful to find their home in their neighborhood.  To be able to be part of their community, to make a difference, and to find support in their neighbors, well, who could ask for more!  It has been a very good two years, and we expect to have a fantastic upcoming year!  Thank you for your continued support!

Love,
The Superheroes of Kindness