WaylandCares EMPOWER Campaign
Each year WaylandCares creates a program and partners with the Wayland schools to promote healthy decision making and youth development. This year the theme was EMPOWER. “The empower program was a community based program that reached students in elementary, middle and high school, and encouraged youth to figure out what the term “empower” means to them. The goal was not only to identify ways for our youth to empower themselves, but to encourage them to take stock of the resources available to them within the community and how they can give back and empower their peers to make healthy decisions as well.” says Jason Verhoosky, WaylandCares Director.
We rolled out the program by working with our partners at the 3 elementary schools and were able to provide an opportunity for both staff and youth to explore all that empower means to them. Verhoosky presented the program at all school meetings to identify empowerment, explain components and concepts and introduce them to the EMPOWERment art project. Without the support and partnership of the elementary schools programs like this would be impossible.
Each school took on the EMPOWER program in its’ own way. At Happy Hollow the school implemented it as a whole school project. After the initial all-school meeting, the faculty met to discuss how they could incorporate the Empower lesson in their individual classrooms, including the grade level buddy program and the final creation of the banner in the art room. Happy Hollow principal, Jim Lee commented, “I am so pleased that this was such an all school effort. Empower is a word with real meaning in our school now.” Art teacher Chris Soeltz, envisioned using the color wheel to organize color behind the word bubbles and then used the complementary colors in the word bubbles. Through a combination of oil crayons, paint, markers and additional paper quotes a masterpiece was created. The kids were fully engaged in discussing the definition of empower and the difference between being kind and empathetic, versus boasting when talking about empowerment. It was truly an all school project that now has a permanent home at Happy Hollow.
At Loker school it was all about collaboration. “It was inspiring to see the students demonstrating PRIDE in working together and reflecting on positive behaviors and attributes that represent them striving to give their personal best. The Empower campaign has united the school community with a growth mindset approach that will facilitate their development in a positive manner.” said Principal Brian Jones. The kids loved working on this in small groups during art class and by the end everyone in the school was involved. One Loker youth said” it felt cool to be part of a bigger project. We all got a chance to work on it”. Some of the students added on to other students work creating a beautiful whole school EMPOWER banner.
Claypit chose to use vibrant colors for their banners, creating a blanket of color. The K-2 students completed one banner and grade 3-5 students finished a second one. 3rd grade teacher Robbin Rossi from Claypit said “we had a good discussion about the words and examples of how to be empowered”.
The seniors at WHS will be working on an EMPOWER banner closer to graduation and it will be displayed in the tower at the front entract to the school. Stayed tuned for future empower projects at the WMS.
Reproductions of the EMPOWER banners are displayed around town on the bulletin boards. Ask your youth about the experience of working on this project and what it meant to them. .
WaylandCares is a community coalition encouraging families to make healthy decisions in Wayland, MA. We believe it is the collective responsibility of the community to create a safe environment for our young people, and to support healthy youth decision-making.