PRTF Spreading Positivity
Imagine yourself walking around the campus of a large facility and you see chalk art. Walk a little further and there is more. On another part of campus, additional images.
John Fontanez is a Recreational Therapist Assistant at the Solnit South PRTF. This is his second time working for DCF and in total, has dedicated 7 years to the youth with whom he works daily to "keep connected." Speaking to him is easy, it is understood how he can creatively work with the youth.
The chalk art idea grew out of pictures and messages John saw on Facebook. In Connecticut and across the country, individuals are leaving little positive messages to assist others in getting through the day. Could this be done at Solnit?
John decided that as a way to boost the staff's morale and to empower the youth, chalk art would be replicated at Solnit South.
Was it hard to engage adolescents to be creative and express themselves? According to John it "did not take much to get them engaged" and only a "little prompting" to start. The credit here rests with John and his abilities as well as the trust he developed with the youth.
With the chalk located and colors picked, the youth went to work detailing the steps to the entrances of each unit and even the Administration building. Staff received an uplifting surprise when they arrived the next day - a design, a quote and a colorful reminder of staff support - and youth empowerment.
When you look at the chalk art closely, you will see favorite inspirational sayings remembered by youth:
"It will be over soon"
Ones they memorized and could recite off the top of their heads:
"Don't blend in when you are meant to stand out"
Another quote in which the youth live by:
"We are all a little broken, but broken crayons color too"
In times when we look to professionals for support, it is the youth voice which can support the professional. By giving back, the youth experienced a valuable life lesson that giving something positive forward can serve many purposes.