|Pathways to Success for Youth Project|
pathways to success for youth blog
by Mikayla Cerney
One of the most powerful tools that I learned from Jack Canfield is an exercise called the Heart Talk. The way it works is a small group of people sit in a circle and agree to a set of guidelines:
A Heart Talk is an excellent way to bond a group, resolve a conflict, talk about a difficult or challenging situation or begin to process an event that is having an affect on the group.
This past year I went into the high school health class with Trish to assist in teaching a unit on The Success Principles. We decided that as an introduction to the work we would hold a Heart Talk. We asked for eight volunteers to come and sit on the floor to form the circle. We reviewed the process, went over the guidelines and everyone in the circle and in the room agreed to adhere to them. The students who were not participating we asked to listen silently. A Positivity bracelet served as our talking item.
To demonstrate the process, Trisha asked a general question to get the group started. She shared her answer and passed along the bracelet. About halfway around the circle, one of the students asked if we could talk about something that really mattered. He stated he had a lot going on and he wanted to talk about it in the circle. At first the group shared very little, each person talking for only a minute or so. Then one student shared about her home life with an alcoholic dad. Another talked about the anxiety he felt starting the year at a new school. As the Heart Talk progressed the participants felt safe enough to share some of the most heart breaking details of their lives. They spoke of bullying, substance abuse, peer pressure, physical abuse, neglectful parents, not feeling good enough, low self worth, disconnectedness, and depression. These students, who at the beginning of the Heart Talk were afraid to share, were now openly crying with one another. And the observers were silent but completely engaged.
An activity that was supposed to last a half an hour stretched to cover almost the entire 80 minute class. At the end of the Heart Talk Trish kept everyone in circle, opened up the discussion to rest of the class, and asked a few closing questions.
"So, what did you think?"
One girl in the circle said "This is the first time anyone has really asked me what is going on with me and given the space to talk about it.” This girl, a sophomore, had been in school for 10 years and that was the first time that she had been allowed to talk about what was really going on in her life. Her classmates nodded in agreement. It was the first time they had been given the space, too.
"Do you feel more connected to your classmates?"
The answer to that question was a resounding yes followed by both participants and observers getting up and tearfully hugging one another. Relationships had shifted and these kids were connected on a whole new level.
The next day the students asked if we could have another Heart Talk. And so we did. Several new kids joined the circle. Clearly there was more to say.
How many kids of how many ages in how many schools are expected to show up and perform in the classroom, but are experiencing challenges in their lives that set them up for disengagement? How many adults go to work with similar challenges, are expected to perform in the workplace and end up feeling disconnected and unsupported.
What would our lives be like if we started our days; our work days, our school days, our family meals with heart talks?
A Note from Trish: Prior to meeting with this class, the teacher informed me that this particular group of kids were a consistent behavior management challenge and that I should expect multiple disruptions, some disrespectful behavior and I should be prepared to send kids to the office as it was an every day occurrence. I’m thinking that Heart Talks just might be a little bit more powerful, productive and engaging than a trip to the Principal’s office!
Click here to get a Positivity Bracelet and learn more about how you can support expansion of the Pathways to Success for Youth Project.
To learn more about Trish Jacobson and get a closer look at what else she's up to visit http://www.trishajacobson.com
Pathways to Success for Youth Team
Patty Aubery, Trisha Jacobson, Jack Canfield, Mikayla Cerney
Marissa Maitland, Molly Mullins, Marianna Robinson, Grace Remillard, Jack Canfield, Trish Jacobson, Mikayla Cerney, Meg Perrin & Faith Jacobson
Jackie DiFonzo, Olivia Belanger, Kelly Sharp, Marianna Robinson, Chance Bousquet, Meg Perrin, Lea Thelemarck being interviewed by Patty Aubery, President of The Canfield Training Group
Team members not shown: Nichole Tomacelli, Jen Collard, Whitney Pray, Drea Kasianchuk, Chelsea Latham