Moving, for many of us, can be a stressful event. We look back and reflect on memories made and time spent in our favorite spaces which is comforting, but can make it more difficult to leave. And often it forces us to face the painful reality of purging items we may not want to discard.
After six years in a fairly spacious permanent space within Holy Family Elementary School, our Bowmanville School Age Program was faced with the reality of moving to a mobile program late in August. Our new home would be a multi-purpose space shared with the entire school.
It was hard to let go.
What would become of the comfy couch and our important collaborative art pieces that covered the walls? What equipment and materials would we keep? As Alyssa, my co-educator, and I tried to find places to store items on carts and redefine how our space might look in a gym or a music room, we were approached by ten-year-old Faith from our School Age Program. “Where is the green chair going to go in the gym?” Her concern caught me off guard, and I realized how much the decisions we were making affected the children.
As a flood of visuals of the children in this chair came rushing back to my memory, I remembered how children connected to that space and that special chair.
I thought the green chair would return to where it came from, my own home. But the green chair had become a permanent place of comfort; a place to spend time alone and a place for shared interests with special friends.
We aren’t able to keep the chair, I explained. The look on Faith’s face confirmed her disappointment. Others quickly began to articulate the chair’s importance. I too shared their sentiments.
I thought about it the whole day and then asked Faith and eleven-year-old Ashlyn, the two children in our Program that expressed the most disappointment about losing the special chair, to think with me. Could we find a home somewhere in our adjoining Centre? They thought independently, together, and with Shirley, our Program Supervisor.
We discussed possibilities for a space where the chair could live. Perhaps in one of the Child Care rooms? The children were worried access would be limited around the younger children’s schedules. The Staff room? That was quickly turned down by the children, who felt it would be “weird” sitting in there with all adults. Shirley’s office? This was approved by all the children because it is always accessible. Ashlyn and Faith approached Shirley to advocate for the chair and returned moments later with big smiles on their faces. They had come to an agreement. If the girls helped Shirley move a few things in her office to accommodate the chair, it would have a new home to welcome them and visitors to our Programs.
A home was found!
What resonated for us, when we reflected on this experience, was the conviction of this group of children to keep this chair, the power we all feel when we are a part of change, and the life of a special chair that means so much to our children and holds their many stories…and perhaps secrets.
Angela Baker RECE, Compass ELC Bowmanville School Age Program
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