Summer is almost over, and the new school year is upon us! It's been a wild and wonderful summer here at MMRC as we took 9 weeks to dig deep into our curriculum. I am proud and excited to see our new revisions go to print.
As the school year begins and the world seems more divisive than ever, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and almost desensitized to what is happening all around us. As I sometimes get frustrated by all the inequities, injustices, and hate - I have to turn to what I know is good and can make a difference. I am lucky enough to be a part of a team that strives to bring good into the world and to help children everywhere find their voice. Finding our voice requires us to love ourselves unconditionally, with all of our brokenness - it’s when we know we are worthy of that self-compassion that we can learn empathy. When we have empathy, all of a sudden we see someone’s capacity or our own without any judgment.
In order to teach empathy, we use character driven curriculum for kids to relate to. In the graphic to the left, you can see our latest edition to our Mini Mermaid Tails, her name is Aliyah and her differences help us learn there is more to people than meets the eye. Throughout the story, we learn how Aliyah is new to the mermaid world, and all of the other mermaids are unsure of her and don’t want to get near her because she is so different. Mini Mermaid has a choice to make; she can join the others (the easy answer) and stay away, highlighting Alliyah’s differences (bullying) or she can stand tall, get to know Aliyah, find their common humanity and see how great Aliyah is. You might imagine the choice Mini Mermaid makes. She chooses (after taking a moment to breathe, to look for what she is feeling, to listen to her inner voice, to stand tall = our Mini Mermaid Flow), to be brave, to have courage going against the popular voices that want to keep Aliyah out and befriends Aliyah.
I believe with every fiber of my being that we, as in you and I, have the capacity to affect change for good. I also believe with every bit of me that the change begins within, we need to be patient and grow each other up from the inside out. This year, our curriculum opens the doorway to a deeper conversation about how our children see themselves within the context of their community and asks them to take a moment and realize they have a responsibility as a human to care for others as well as themselves.
At MMRC, our boys and girls, move their bodies, train for a finish line that is just the beginning of self-compassion and empathy. They discover how much they have to offer the world, which is what it’s all about, isn’t it? Using our voices to be all we long to in the world and to give back to those around us…..
Here’s to the new school year, to doing things differently and the hard way (thanks, Mini Mermaid and Young Triton for the inspiration), because it matters, because our kid's matter and the world needs it.
Julie Hitchcock is a reading teacher and Mini Mermaid Running Club coach at Freedom Elementary in Freedom, CA. Here is what she shared with us about her experience as a coach:
I have been a Mini Mermaid Coach for four seasons. I just moved to Freedom School last year and was able to start a new program there.
I wanted to coach Mini Mermaids because I wanted to share the supportive, inclusive experience I had had participating in the Mermaid Triathlon Series. I did not start running until I was 40 years old and decided to do my first sprint triathlon. I remember going to a pre-race training and seeing all these other women who were scared and feeling doubtful and then Heidi and her team helped us realize that we could do it!.
After completing my first sprint tri, I felt so proud of myself and so encouraged by the community. Later, I saw an article asking if there were any schools in Santa Cruz County that wanted to participate in the Mini Mermaid Running Club. I so wanted to share that feeling of empowerment with my students, I emailed Heidi right away. In my mind, I thought she and her team were going to come to my school and coach the girls... Little did I know, I was volunteering to coach!
I have always taught at low income schools and Mini Mermaids has granted full scholarships to all of the girls in MMRC . I am very grateful to MMRC and their supporters for allowing low income students to participate in their programs for free. Most of our students have never had the chance to participate in organized sports before.
The best part of coaching is helping the girls to believe in themselves. I have seen the power of this program carry over to every aspect of the girls' lives. It not only teaches them that they are physically strong, it teaches them that they matter and that they can achieve their goals. I love being a coach and helping girls to realize their potential. Thank you for letting me be a part of Mini Mermaids!
Would you like to help us expand? We are looking for volunteers to put up flyers and distribute marketing materials. You can be located ANYWHERE for this opportunity. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested!
Morgan Hill LAST CALL! Sessions begin the week of September 12 and
end with the Morgan Hill 5k on October 23
San Francisco LAST CALL! Sessions begin the week of October 3 and
end with the Mermaid San Francisco 5k on November 13
Sessions begin the week of October 10 and
end with the Bakersfield Turkey Trot on November 19
Sessions begin the week of November 7 and
end with the Sacramento Santa Run on December 17