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Under the Willows, Hamilton, Canada

2.5 Intercultural-cultural communication and new forms of being
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
4:42 PM, Wednesday 30 Aug 2017 (26 minutes)
Under the Willows is an art, garden and play program for children who have experienced violence either at home or in the community. The program aims to re-focus from disabilities and problems to possibilities and development. The artists, the materials, and the physical-emotional context of ability, creativity, cooperation and mutual support provide an environment in which children extend themselves, develop and create. With access to nurturing relationships, opportunities to explore the world of nature and artistic expression, while working cooperatively with other children and adults, the children experience themselves as whole unique persons with talents and offerings not only in the Garden but also in their lives outside.
For 12 years, amidst creative play themes of healing, rescuing the victimized, and healing the injured, the program has struggled with how to respond to children insisting on including multiple types of violence in their play. Recently the staff has used improvisational techniques to encourage alternate story lines by ‘yes-anding’ ideas into active, multi-character narratives where musings land, are radically accepted and heightened. The result has been an exciting transformation: this year the children did not choose to play-murder their way to power. They put down their guns. 
Under the Willows (Hamilton, Canada)
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