Camp CosmoKidz: Bigger and better
Last year we were excited to tell you about our first ever CosmoKidz Camp. This year we have more good news to report. The Camp has continued and it has become bigger and better with the generous support of the Louisiana Governor’s Office.
This year’s Camp CosmoKidz was held at the end of July. It was a free, week-long camp with over 60 kindergarten and first-grade students at Woodland Park School in Hammond, Louisiana. We were able to run such a long camp for so many young students because of the generous support of the Governor’s Office in Louisiana—in the form of a $25,000 grant to the CMM Institute.
The CosmoKidz Director in Louisiana, Chipps Taylor, had told staff in the Governor’s Office about the CosmoKidz program being run in Hammond over the past year. This program and the positive impact it is having on the young children is described in the 2017-2018 research report that you can read on the CosmoKidz page.
As part of the CosmoKidz program, young children are given opportunities to engage in unscripted deliberations about communication issues. Chipps invited staff from the Governor’s Office to observe an unscripted deliberation by first graders on how to respond to hurtful comments. Both of the representatives said they were “blown away” by what they observed. They had never seen a group of young children having the type and quality conversation that was occurring and they were convinced that the skills these children are learning will make a significant contribution to reducing violence in their communities. Within a matter of months the grant had been organized to continue the good work of CosmoKidz in a summer camp.
Nine teachers from Woodland Park, who had been using CosmoKidz for the past year, developed the curriculum for the week-long camp. Ten college students assisted the teachers. The camp included a healthy breakfast and lunch each day and focused on SOARing behavior (Sense what’s around you; Open your hands to help others; Act with kindness; Respect other people).
On Monday, the children focused on what it means to sense what’s around you. The children talked about body awareness using the CosmoKidz card on this topic. They made faces from felt to exemplify different emotional facial expressions.
On Tuesday, children in one class wrote one thing they would do that day to open their hands to help another and they made a chain comprising their responses. Kindergarten children in another class made clay angels that they painted and later gave to seniors living in a residential home in the community.
Children in yet a third class made a sign to post on the wall of their school to remind all kindergarten through 8th grade students to “act with kindness” through their words and actions. The sign will remain on the wall throughout the school year.
The social world that was made during camp week was truly uplifting for all involved and it was made possible through the good will and support of so many committed people. We give thanks to the teachers, college students, food services personnel, bus drivers, janitors, the administrator on duty, the Director of CosmoKidz in Louisiana, Chipps Taylor, and the over 60 children who attended. And we give a special thank you to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund for making this week possible. The official school year will begin in another week and these CosmoKidz campers are prepared to SOAR when they arrive in their new classroom.