Empathy monsters and glitter jars help first responder families to connect and be mindful…

Do you know what an empathy monster is? Have you ever heard of meditation glitter jars? A group of Fortem kids got to find out and make their own when nine families joined Fortem Australia at the Artlis Studios in Currumbin for June school holiday art classes over two days.

These art classes were such a great wellbeing activity for our first responder families, as it was not only a fun activity for the kids, being creative whilst crafting, but the sessions also aimed to help the kids work on their mindfulness.

As with all our Fortem wellbeing activities, connection is key. The classes offered opportunities not only for the kids to make friends but the parents and carers able to spend time connecting over the ‘first responder life’!

A rainy day on the Gold Coast was the perfect day for an art class. With masks on and social distancing in place, everyone was ready for a great morning. The class started with the teacher reading out a story and the kids drawing how it made them feel and how they interpreted the story.

Parents and carers were able to go to a cafe next door to catch up over a coffee and have a break from the school holiday chaos!

“Great way to get the kids out of the house on school holidays”

In the first art class, the kids learnt to make ‘glitter meditation jars’ which they can use to help calm themselves. They also learnt ‘butterfly breathing’, which is an easy to do method to help stay calm in many situations. They also played with playdough and painted lots of pictures. After the class, the children couldn’t wait to go home and put their creations up all around the house.

During the Tuesday class, it was announced that the Gold Coast would go into a three day lockdown starting 6pm that night. The parents were all disappointed that their school holiday activities would have to be cancelled, some going to the wildlife park, others having camping on the books.

To help alleviate some of that stress, Fortem decided to make their Thursday art class open to more families and move it to an online platform.

On Thursday, via zoom, everyone met each other and started sharing how their lockdown has been so far. Everyone was very cheerful! With some household items (paper, pencils, cereal box cardboard and bluetac) the kids made ‘Empathy Monsters’.

An empathy monster is a tool that the kids can use to show their emotions. The idea behind it is that the monster that they create (with interchangeable expressions) will be able to match their emotions and ‘empathise’ with them. It is a way for the children to express themselves and make sense of how they may be feeling. Learning how to control their emotions and how to empathise are great skills to learn and can also encourage mindfulness. They also learnt coping mechanisms, and how to make their monster feel better if they are feeling a negative emotion.

All up it was a great way to pass some time during lockdown, practice some mindfulness and connect with other first responder families.

“Considering it was a last-minute change of plans with Lockdown the process and event went well”

Thank you to Artlis Studios for helping to make these wellbeing activities a success.

Find a Gold Coast region Wellbeing Activity on our Calendar.

Fortem activities are designed to support the mental fitness of our first responder families. Read more about Our Approach.
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