Paper leaves for craft tree include statements of gratitute. (Contributed)

On Community: Ways to show gratitude

With Family Day and Valentines Day having just passed, now is a great opportunity to look at what we are grateful for in our world and around us.

As the Community Development coordinator for The Family Education and Support Centre, I feel grateful to be allowed to be me and be accepted for all my sparkle and enthusiasm for things pink and over the top. I am also so grateful for the ability to create courses and workshops that are beneficial in the community and in the school system.

One of those workshops came to light when I was putting together a program in response to the Middle Years Development Instrument. I picked gratitude, which was derived from the pro-social behaviour component of that instrument. Pro-social behaviour is defined as “intended to benefit another,” benefiting other people or society as a whole, “such as helping, sharing, donating, co-operating, and volunteering. Through this research, I came up with a fun interactive workshop for students.”

The gratitude workshop includes a discussion on what gratitude is and what it means to each student and from that they get to do a gratitude tree craft with bright coloured paper leaves that state what they are grateful for.

Many of the students put family, friends, homes, food, water, love, electronics, technology and sports. After finishing their tree, they get a chance to share their artwork with the class. Some students create trees that have leaves falling off and some create flowers instead of the tree, but one thing that is consistent is that they are excited to create something that they believe in and feel that they are grateful for.

Then we move on to an action plan for Friends, Family, Community and School. In this action plan, they tell me, as a class, what they can do to show gratitude in all four instances. In every class I have been in from Kindergarten to Grade 7 they have come up with 5 ways for each within minutes. I then leave the list in the classroom for them to expand on over the rest of the school year.

The best part of the workshop is seeing how excited the students get as they come up with ways to show gratitude in their action plans. Almost every class came up with giving hugs and spending time with their friends and family as a way to show gratitude for them, and doing random acts of kindness for their neighbors, like mowing the lawn or saying “hi” and giving smiles and donating time and resources to the community is another amazing way they decide to show gratitude to the people around them.

Every school and class I do, I get more from them than they get from me and I absolutely love the feeling that they give me by filling my heart up every time with love and laughter. I am grateful for the students and the work that I get to do with them and the things that they teach me every time I go into a class.

The gratitude workshop is available to children in any program from Kindergarten up to grade 12 at a cost of $17.

• Contact Nikki at communitydev@familyed.ca to find out more.

Sunny Schiller is coordinator of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-Katzie

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