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WISDOM CIRCLES OCEANIA PROGRAMS
This culturally relevant, ‘āina-based youth arts program is core to our organization’s goal of addressing Hawaiʻi’s severe lack of accessible arts programs and explores interconnection through art, environment, and cultural identity. This program serves middle and high school students who could benefit from a trauma-informed program integrating ʻāina + moʻolelo + art.
We offer culturally significant place-based practices in an outdoor space to cultivate youth’s awareness of their relationship with their environment and with themselves. They learn to translate cultural and personal storytelling through the arts, finding a deeper mind-body experience that increases understanding and safety. The culmination of Story Quilt is the creation of an expansive nine-foot art quilt by all participants that expresses their collective perspective on, and solutions to needs in their community.
The quilt will become a living creation, carrying the stories of those who created it and growing ideas as youth take leadership through arts engagement with their community.
The Creative Community Workers Program teaches frontline workers therapeutic strategies to cope with stress, balance their emotional and mental well-being, and facilitate expressive spaces for professionals in service agencies to find more inspiration in their work. The program provides opportunities to access the arts and forge deeper connections with other community leaders. During the pandemic, these therapeutic spaces have helped participants find inspiration and connection in a time that has been isolating and overwhelming. Participants have included nonprofit directors, program managers, community educators, social workers, and healthcare workers. We also provide training to youth service providers to utilize expressive arts to support youths’ mental health and social-emotional learning, so they can advocate for more healing strategies from within the systems they work in.
Wisdom Circles Oceania coordinates and is a founding partner of the ʻŌpio Protectors Network, a partnership of mental health, education, and youth development professionals who work together to create restorative frameworks for addressing harm and increasing safety in youth-serving programs across Hawai'i. Wisdom Circles Oceania provides project coordination, a restorative nature-based arts curriculum, and therapeutic spaces for youth to share their feedback. For the past three years, we have been in a key organizing role in gathering a collaboration of organizations, community, and youth leaders to develop this work. Our collective vision is to create a framework for addressing and preventing harm that is survivor-centered, trauma-informed, and culturally relevant to the communities we serve.
Organizational collaborators include Wisdom Circles Oceania, Hoʻopae Pono Peace Project, Weaving Our Stories, The Pōpolo Project, and Hawai’i Women in Filmmaking.
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