I'm Ori Gutin, a Student Support Assistant (SSA) at One Purpose School in San Francisco's Bayview District. At the start of the shelter in place, I joined an awesome group of San Francisco-based All-In! staff, comprised of SSAs, clinicians, and Unconditional Education (UE) coaches, that were dedicated to providing weekly social emotional learning (SEL) content to our students stuck at home. Our hope was to touch on issues specific to what they might be experiencing because of COVID-19. We have created SEL content on mindfulness, peace corners, yoga, identifying feelings such as frustration, worry, and now... loneliness! This week's video normalizes the feelings of loneliness that our students might be experiencing at home right now, and through a reading of the fantastic children's book The Invisible String, we help remind them that even if they are not physically with their school community, they are still connected in their hearts to everyone they love! Additionally, students are provided two handouts (Invisible String Worksheet and Special Message Worksheet) they can do at home to help them stay connected to their friends and school communities from afar. Making these weekly videos has been such a wonderful experience for me. It provides me an opportunity to think creatively about how to share social emotional learning with students in an engaging way.
While I have been working on these videos to support my passion for SEL in my professional life, I have also been working on an SEL project in my personal life – self publishing my first picture book, The Butterfly Who Flew in the Rain. My book tells the story of Cody the caterpillar who was born in the midst of a terrible thunderstorm, and his ensuing journey of transformation and self-discovery, in which he learns to not only accept life’s challenges, but to embrace them. It is meant to teach kids that even if things appear impossibly difficult, or it feels as if we are completely mired in negative emotions or situations with seemingly no end in sight, we still must never give up. It is based in the philosophy of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which teaches that we must not sit around just waiting for happiness or better conditions to come, but rather we must learn to live with life’s challenges, accept them, continue to act in alignment with our personal values, and move forward in our lives in a meaningful way. Given the state of our world right now, and the immense challenges facing children across the globe, I believe this story of perseverance is more important now than ever before.
I’m working with an incredible illustrator to self-publish this book, and together we are trying to print 1,000 copies. We need to raise $5,638 to get our book to the printers, and right now we have raised $4,385, which is just over 77% of the way towards our goal. After we meet our self-publishing costs, all profits made from the sale of the book will go to two local COVID-19 emergency relief funds that are supporting communities in need in my home city, San Francisco, and in the illustrator’s home state, Massachusetts. We will donate 50% of the profits to MassUndocuFund, which provides funds directly to families of undocumented immigrants who have lost their jobs, and are unable to access any state or federal relief funds in Massachusetts, and 50% to Compass Family Services, which provides emergency COVID-19 Family Care Kits, which include food, pharmaceutical, and cleaning supplies to homeless families in San Francisco.
If you are interested in supporting this project, go to www.orisstories.com/support and donate $20! In return, we will ship you a signed hardcover copy of the book to anywhere in the U.S., and email you corresponding SEL worksheets and discussions questions, too!
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