ISA at Miller Academy’s “Neighborhood Nights”
On May 14, Interactive Story Adventures traveled to the Hill District to participate in Neighborhood Nights (N.N.) at Miller African-Centered Academy. N.N. is a project dedicated to educational justice and one that encourages communities to “take back your school.” “Neighborhood Nights are after-school events that aim to enhance collaboration and unity between organizations, the school, and the community,” said Dean Richards, a project coordinator and participant in the 2013/14 Leaders and Learning class at the Coro Center for Civic Leadership. At Miller Academy’s N.N., the theme was Health and Wellness. Wearing matching green shirts adorned with hand-written names, children and families trooped in for ISA’s activity. In typical ISA fashion, the activity integrated a story. Lead Educator for ISA, Mary Arena, and the children read a short story about the importance of saying thank you when your friends do something nice:
Isa is a friendly kid who loves to play and learn. He is smart and nice to friends and always takes his turn. When his friends do something nice, he wants to be polite. But can’t remember what to say, something isn’t right! Isa needs our help today, lets all work together. To think of something nice to say when one friend helps another.“Thank you” is the phrase we need to say to any friend who takes the time to be polite and lend a helping hand. Let’s use our hands to make a sign to help Isa remember to say “thank you” to all his friends whenever they are helpers. Now he can use what he learned to thank some special friends who helped us all have fun tonight at this great event! With this lesson in mind, the children spread paint on their hands and made colorful handprints on posters thanking the N.N. sponsors. The children were also encouraged to make a handprint on a small card that they could take home.
Some children had so much fun they made multiple handprints before stepping back to examine their handiwork. The kids also helped Jordan and Mary paint their hands so that they could say thank you as well. By the end of the night, ISA had collected handprints of all shapes, colors and sizes. One special poster even sported a tiny footprint from one small participant. Posters were made for both the Grable Foundation and the Heinz Foundation. This activity at Miller Academy is one of ISA’s Community Engagement events that all involve semi-structured scenarios where children and their loved ones are presented with a story context and materials to make the story their own.