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I like to hold events that bring people together to share their hearts and minds. I try to create a container that feels safe to all peoples inside of it regardless of age, gender race, physical and mental abilities. When the group first comes together, we take a moment as a group to access the needs and abilities of the group. We need to know our differences in order to honour them. Our differences are a gift to us because they give us an opportunity to experience life through the lens of another person. They take us out of our ego and we remember we are really the space between our personality traits and abilities. Our sameness is what binds us together as a one human race. It is what fuels compassion and understanding. We all want to feel cared for, heard, excepted, appreciated, recognized, and helped when we need it. If one participant needs to have dairy free options, we provide it. If a child is over stimulated by lights, we turned the lights down. If one child cannot dance because they are injured, we provide them with a comfy place to be so they can still bop along to the music. We do not leave them to hobble along on their own. This is where we learn that the dominate needs of the group should not be making the decisions. If it were, we would not include the equally important needs of the few. Many will try to use their own biases and judgments as a reason to continue to put themselves first. In the case of someone with a broken leg in the group, the other students may wonder why they need to walk more slowly down the hall with him? Many people have grown up in an environment that taught them how to specifically be emotionally OK with letting other peers fall through the cracks. There is a disconnect there between one person’s experience and an others.

More and more we are learning that children can experience traumas easily as a child. An experience of a child feeling they are a burden to their friends and family is something that can hold with them in their subconscious mind for a lifetime. We are also learning more and more through science that it is these perceived or real traumas of neglect, isolation, and unmet needs that can develop into addiction and mental health issues. Imagine you are a child and you feel that you cannot be around your peers because that fact you need something different than they do, to have a basic need met, is burdensome. You get made fun of or neglected because the way you go about having your basic needs met is different and unfortunately it makes other people uncomfortable. Why does it make them feel uncomfortable? Because we have habitually taught exclusion in schools for a very long time. It has been bread into us. Classrooms are going to have to be designed in a new way. A new framework needs to be at the for front of how we unit our children together. We need to vision these “classrooms” as community builders. Who do we want these children to be out in the real world with each other? We are raising the next generation of adults here. Do we want to raise people that take a breath and try to understand the complexities of another’s situation? Or will we continue to teach young people it is ok to let their peers struggle and look the other way due to lack of funding or lack of creativity in how to address the issue?

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