Today's post is from Jill Lawson, our counselor, who always finds amazing creative ways to help our kids. What better way to start a group on Diversity with our residents than to get creative with a sack of potatoes. Our kids all have an array of life stories – different ways they grew up, different skin colors, different values, different preferences, different experiences.

How could I convey to them that although everyone is different, they all have something in common and respect is required?

Each kid blindly grabbed a potato from a sack and had to quietly come up with their potato’s life story – how it got its markings, indentions, dimples, scars, etc. Keep in mind that the kids participating ranged from 6 years to 18 years of age so you can imagine the “potato life stories” we heard. One potato was a super power monster. Ha!

Eric came to group with ear buds in listening to music and I was worried he wouldn’t participate. Side note: Eric is 17 and is in a self-contained class and struggles with reading and writing skills, but is extremely street smart (for lack of a better word). He’s a pleasant teenager with high ambitions in life. When it was Eric’s turn to tell his potato’s life story he said “my potato grew up in a home where his parents had fights and his stepdad beat him. He went to school and didn’t make good grades, got into fights, joined a gang, and was in foster care. My potato has bruises on the outside and the inside. But he got a good job and made it out.”

I was in total shock! This opened up the conversation for us to explore resiliency and perseverance despite our hardships and battles. It also allowed us to acknowledge that we all have experienced different events in life that will forever make an impression. Like potatoes, our scars and markings are all different but we all have something in common – whether we are all trying to make a difference and survive life’s curveballs or we are all residents of the same household but for different reasons.

We ended the group by discussing how we can respect others even though they are different from us or may have different values and backgrounds.

“Be kind. For everyone is fighting a battle.”