Kids’ art & story hour at the Saturday Organic Market
By Michelle Garrison
Sanmiguelenses por la Paz is a new organization of Mexican and foreign citizens devoted to promoting peace, love and creativity in San Miguel de Allende. Our first community projects are 1: The White Flag Project, and 2: Peace Education for kids at the TOSMA Organic Market. We are at the Organic Market from 10:30am until 1pm on Saturdays, seated on blankets in the shade. Last Saturday we served 15 children, ages two to 10, from Mexico, the US, Canada and Ireland with free activities that promote peace, love and creativity in San Miguel.
Art workshop and story hour for kids
We open the activity with a story about light. Using a flashlight, we explain that everything — you, me, the tree, the blanket, the grass, your cat, a rock — is made of light; tiny particles of light. And that light can also be referred to as love, God, or the universe. A seven-year-old girl interrupted me last Saturday.
“But not bad guys. Bad guys do bad things and hurt people so they are not made of light.”
A perfect opportunity to solve “the problem of evil.”
“I am glad you brought that up,” I replied. “Because when bad things happen or people do bad things, it seems like not everything is made of light and love, right?”
Then, using the flashlight and shining it in their wee eyes, we explained that each one of them, everything in fact, is like the flashlight, producing light and good energy.” “Nevertheless!” we explained, “when something hurtful happens, like someone says they don’t want to be your friend, your parents fight, someone steals your bike, you feel a lot of stress to get to school on time, or you get a bad grade, your light gets covered up a bit.”
For this we use squares of tissue paper and the children cover up the flashlight’s light one square at a time for each unfortunate event. Pretty soon the light is very dim and later cannot be seen at all.
“Is the light still on?” I ask them. “Is this object still made of light?”
They hesitantly nod their heads yes, remembering that I never turned it off, although it appears dim and lifeless.
“This is how it is with people, too,” we explain. “Sometimes someone’s light gets covered up little by little until you can hardly see it or cannot see it at all. And then that person makes bad choices. So how can we uncover their light?” we ask.
The kids ponder it and then speak up one by one.
“Apologize! Give them a hug! Tell them you love them! They can say they are sorry for what they’ve done! Share your toys with them!”
And with each idea, a piece of tissue is removed from the lamp, allowing it to shine brighter and brighter with each action that each child thought of on his or her own.
Next we discuss how one can “be peace; be the light” in nature, in their homes, at school, with family and friends, and in the community.
“Am I being peace and letting my light shine when I throw my garbage out the car window?” we ask. “Nooooo!” they shout. “You have to put it in a garbage can!” a six- year-old boy answers, “because if you don’t then someone else has to spend their whole day cleaning up the street for you.”
We follow up that dialogue with a song: “Esta es mi luz; la voy a dejar brillar… This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”
Art & Creative Expression
Following story hour, dialogue and song, kids are given paper, pencils, crayons, scissors, magazines and glue sticks to create their own artistic representation of what peace is for them. Some drew a child sharing his or her most prized possession (a scooter or candy) with another child. A little boy drew a nurse helping a sick person. An older girl drew a man and a woman getting married with the woman’s older daughter present and smiling at the wedding. Two children drew the Mexican flag with a big heart-shaped nopal where the eagle generally goes. Very small children made broad streaks of color and smeared stripes of glue across the page. When each child had finished,
they shared with the group (not an easy feat!) what their art was about and why they chose it. We all admired and praised their work.
White Flag Project
Concluding the event, each child receives their white peace flag. The White Flag Project consists of hanging a white flag of any material (towel, sheet, old t-shirt) outside your home and business in San Miguel. At the Organic Market we give out white flags we’ve sewn to the public. The children string a ribbon through the folded and sewn corner of the flag to hang it from their door knocker or window grate. Every flag is accompanied by a brief handout in Spanish:
“With this flag we declare:
I am peace. You are peace.
Together we are the peace in San Miguel de Allende.
And in this house/this business we practice peace in all that we do.
A peaceful town is the inheritance that we leave to our children
and we unite to assure it.
Our town is safe when everyone is safe!
May this flag wave in all of San Miguel until it is so.”
This first event was a huge success, as 15 big lights in little shells were reminded of their greatness! In the following Saturdays, we plan to continue with the following projects:
•Stories about the Law of Attraction/Positive Thinking with Personal Vision Boards;
•Stories about kids who helped out others who were being bullied and art about loving and protecting others- even strangers!
•Stories about loving and protecting Nature and natural resources and art to accompany.
Thank you to this beautiful community that donated or lent white paper, crayons, magazines, an easel for signage, white fabric, white thread and white ribbon; financial donations that bought scissors, glue sticks, pencils, paper, copies, etc.; to Joanna Francis who personally hemmed and sewed every flag; and to the TOSMA Organic Market which has provided the space free of charge! San Miguel de Allende: We appreciate your continued contributions! We could use more nature and children’s magazines, and financial donations for handouts, internet promotion and materials. Please leave any donations at Garrison & Garrison Books on Hidalgo 26 in the Plaza Bicentenario: Daily 11am-6pm; closed Monday and Thursday. You may follow our events and sign up to volunteer by clicking like on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/smaxpaz.
Michelle Garrison is the owner of Garrison & Garrison Books and SPANISH 205 and gives Behavior Therapy for kids and adults and Mexican Culture Conferences in San Miguel. Garrison holds a master’s degree in multicultural education from the University of Washington and is the proud parent of two Mexi-Gringo children. To get more involved with Sanmiguelenses por la Paz, contact Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.