Brief Summary of the major changes facing iGen (kids born after 1994)
- Rising rates of anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicidal ideation compared with generations prior.
- Financially most families require two parents to be working to cover living expenses, this is the first generation where it is expected that they will earn less than their parents, and a university degree holds the same weight as high school certificate did in the past...only the university degree often comes with an indentured servant style debt attached to it.
- An environmental crisis aggravated by global overpopulation has been left to this generation to solve.
- Unfettered technology is constantly interrupting with bings, beeps and vibrations our deep thinking, creating a barrier to deep inquiry and creative mastery.
- Frustration and failure (required for the development of creative resilience) are systematically removed from life experiences of children raised in environments of well-intentioned helicopter and snow plow parenting.
- Free experiential play time with other kids without adult intervention is limited either due to safety concerns with parents away and extended family living separately from the nuclear family or from the draw of devices out of physical playtime.
- Socialization is taking place online, and Mirror neurons required to develop the subtleties of emotional intelligence are not being stimulated as much in developing brains. Mirror neurons need the physical presence of another human.
- Games that stimulate dopamine highs have the unintended consequence of blocking brain receptors to serotonin the feel-good hormone.
- Lack of physical playtime with friends and family involving eye contact and physical touch is decreasing oxytocin another of our hormones designed to help us experience love, joy and deal with the tedium sometimes required for difficult learning.
- These children are being engineered to chase a dopamine high and to suffer from serotonin and oxytocin deficiency...which could be a strong reason for the spike in anxiety, depression, and self-harm seen in this group.
- Then add in the powerful tall poppy tendencies in Kiwi culture to cut down talent just as it is starting to bloom and you have a recipe for creative decline in the country over the next generation if something isn't done to address it.
A Playful Creative Solution
How does one facilitate the development of creatively resilient compassionate humans?
Creation is a double-edged sword. You can create a better cluster bomb or a cure for a rampant disease. Learning powerful creation skills comes with an obligation to teach strong ethics and build the depth of character with the creator as well. This is the focus of the HeArtivist. Heart + Art + Activism.
Art for us, encompasses the belief that all humans are creative by nature. However creative wounds and life traumas often take kids away from their innate creative genius. Our program is designed to give the kids room to explore what lights them up but channels it in a way that enables them to double up on their effort and learn techniques to become a more effective and creative life artist.
The HeArtivists has been developed to create environments that reward creative iteration instead of only successful outcomes. This removes fear of failure from the equation creating room for experimentation and the development of Creative Grit. We are teaching a learning mindset and breaking down the perfectionistic tendencies that are the thieves of joy in the creative process. Our goal is helping kids understand the grit and passion required to move from apprentice to master of a field.
Our 8-week after school workshop is designed to identify where a child is struggling in developing their creative resilience.
There are seven areas that can impact our creative abilities.
- An open + discerning mind
- Ability to mentally develop an idea and problem solve pathways to manifestation
- Ability to effectively communicate the idea to others
- Ability to gain buy-in and connect with others required to help you make your creation
- Ability to handle the frustrations and inevitable roadblocks that the creation will face.
- Ability to understand the emotional aspects of the creation...how do you want people to feel when they experience your creation, and how well can you successfully manage to get your own needs met and helping your team get their needs met while still making your thing.
- Ability to not only make something but have the courage to release it into the world even if there is a potential for failure or lack of buy-in by the people it was created for...ie the courage to iterate.
The first week of the HeArtivists allows kids to self evaluate where they fall on each of these areas but it is delivered in a way that even a 10-year-old can understand and enjoy the self-awareness that it brings.
The remaining 7 weeks take the HeArtivists on a journey to develop each of these areas one week at a time.
We are not linked to any specific religious tradition but our course is all about teaching the soft skills of building strong values that build community and personal depth of character.
For each week the HeArtivists are given a creative challenge. One that uses art to develop awareness of their needs and develops emotional literacy.
The final project gets them to plan a community building activity that will help advance one of the UN's sustainable development goals.
360 DEGREE Plan - Supporting the Support Networks
Creatives don't exist in a vacuum.
To be a creative human means that you need other humans. Being a complete loner will diminish your creative abilities as your networks will be limited.
Creative kids need creative support networks. Which is why there is HeArtivist Youth and HeArtivist Adult Program. The Adult program helps parents to learn about the unique needs of the IGen and supports them to support the development of creative resilience within their own children.
The adult classes from the pilot program started with just two parents but are now fully booked with a waiting list to get into them. Indicating a large need and interest in learning how to support the creative growth in our children.
The adult program is open to Youth workers, Parents, and Extended family. Basically, anyone who loves kids and wants to see them grow strong and powerfully creative.
World Peace starts with Inner Peace
Emotional Fluency is one of the key components and interests of the parents. What emotion am I feeling and how do I handle it in a way that gets my needs met without impacting others needs negatively? A key component of the Heartivists is learning about Non Violent communication and Non-Violent Activism. Peace and healing of the world and our communities requires nonviolence. The HeArtivists gives tools to parents and kids to develop these skills within themselves. Beginning with learning to turn down the critical voice in their head and dial up the voice of self-compassion.
Topics covered for adults who attend the adult sessions:
- How to help your daughter be body positive when you have been conditioned to not "love" yours.
- How to stand in your own personal power and get your Mojo back. (We have a stunt woman coming to teach this one)
- Prevention techniques for keeping your past traumas from spilling on to your kids.
- Non VIolent communication, the art of learning not to lose your nut, and get more stuff done.
- Remembering what you loved before you had kids and learning to create from your authentic creative nature.
- Mindfulness techniques and how to stay focused in a hyper-busy world.
- The art of finding and carving out. white space in your own and your children's lives.
- How to bombproof your kids and make them fit for the road instead of the road fit for them.
- Techniques for turning down the critical voice in your head.
- We are co-Creating this course so part of it will be a choose your own adventure and we will together go source experts to help us.
Who Founded the Heartivists and Why?
The idea for the HeArtivists came while directing a documentary
Mandi Lynn is New Zealand’s Creative Photographer of the Year 2017 and a Master Photographer who runs a body compassion photography studio specializing in helping women who have body shame to feel comfortable in front of the camera.
In 2018, she received a grant from the NZ Film Commission to direct a documentary called Finding Venus. She traveled the country interviewing mothers and daughters trying to figure out the answer to a couple of questions. Why are 80% of girls reaching adulthood unhappy with their bodies and how is this loss of mojo impacting their social lives, earning potential, and creativity?
What she witnessed was a mass powering down from about the age of 10 in self-confidence and a strong dialing up of the critical voice in girls heads. Anxiety, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and body shame were on the rise for Igen (kids born after 1994). And body shame was still strong in most of the mothers who attended the interviews with their daughters.
At each of the towns she visited, she ran body compassion workshops for mothers and daughters. These were the one day precursors to the 8-week HeArtivist program. After witnessing the challenge that girls were facing and parents were facing in trying to help them she developed a much more comprehensive and powerful program for girls and their mothers. She was able to combine her understanding of Holistic Wellness through her years and a nurse consultant with her decade of working as a successful artist into a program that uses Art as a means to support the mental wellness in our girls.
Mandi and a group of passionate mums started the Every Body is a Treasure Charitable Trust which won the 2018 Health and Wellbeing Category of the Wellington Airport Community Awards.
- Helene Fuld Fellow Studying Holistic Nursing in Scotland
- 10 years in the U.S. Navy as a Nurse Corps Lieutenant working in Women's Health
- Nurse Consultant for the Hutt Valley District Health Board
- Self Taught Internationally award-winning photographer
- Mother and Bonus Mum (2 of her children came to her in their tweens with her partner) to 3 self-reliant resourceful artists (a 20-year-old tech inventor, entrepreneur and CEO of his own tech startup in America, a 21-year-old professional dancer on Pacific Cruise Lines traveling the world doing what she loves, and an 18-year-old budding music producer at Massey University)
Her belief is that if a girl is tuned into her critical voice, anxiety, depression and a dampening of her creative potential will develop.
The biggest key to support young creatives isn't technical...It is a soft skill that will serve them for life in all areas. It is the technique of turning down the volume of the critical voice in your head and learning to turn up the volume of the muse and develop the grit required to bring your vision to life.
The team that has coalesced around the project includes, Whitecliff Art's Therapy program support through interns working with the pilot program, stunt directors helping to teach the standing in your power segment, Health at Every Size dietician teaching mindful eating and looking after our physical tools, a graduate of Toi Whakari Youth Worker and Film industry professional.
The course is currently in its pilot year and is evolving to match the needs of the girls each class.