By Antionette Meeks of Cairn Guidance, a Dove Self-Esteem Project Partner
The dictionary, Merriam-Webster, defines perseverance as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition: the action or condition or an instance of persevering: steadfastness”
It’s been a long 18+ months since COVID-19 changed the way of the world. Many businesses were shuttered and citizens were asked to stay home. Schools largely moved from in-person to virtual learning. Face coverings were the order of the day, along with social distancing. Businesses deemed essential quickly ran out of much needed cleaning items and food staples. In-person visits to family and friends became virtually non-existent. We could have given up, given in, and waved a flag of surrender, but we didn’t.
The Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) cadre trainers (cadre), like most others, traversed the many changes and challenges as a result of COVID-19. The cadre represents school and district level educators, a retired educator, university professors and health counselor, school nurse, and executive director of an organization focused on health and wellness. Many are parents with school-aged children. They recently came together after being unable to meet in-person for their 2020 annual retreat. Like many others, we met virtually in 2020. Our theme this year: Perseverance – Moving It Forward with Confidence.
With the dawn of the vaccine and a reduction in the spread of the virus, if only for a bit, and before the dawn of the delta and other variants of COVID-19, plans were made to meet in-person. Cadre uncomfortable with traveling to Louisville, Kentucky either by airplane or vehicle, could opt out of in-person participation. With CDC precautions in place, we met for an engaging day and a half.
The meeting room was large, allowing us to have plenty of space to comfortably gather. The agenda was built based on the needs of the cadre, including sessions provided by the Cairn Guidance team, cadre and the Dove Self-Esteem Project contact. It also included updates on DSEP materials, energizers led by cadre trainers, networking opportunities, and a scavenger hunt that gave everyone a bit of insight on some of Louisville’s civil rights history. What a connection to perseverance and self-esteem, a belief in ones’ self and rights as human beings! A local group of young people, The Real Young Prodigys, provided a performance that connected well to the CROWN Act (www.thecrownact.com). Their performance was interactive and well received. What a tie into body and hair confidence and self-esteem! Play time after dinner allowed the inner athlete to shine. The night life and touring of Louisville called many cadre trainers to enjoy the great outdoors.
After a year of spending life closeted, it felt good to work and play safely in this new normal. We spent a great deal of our time together learning how to effectively bring DSEP to educators and share how it is designed to positively impact the self-esteem and body confidence of students. Updates to the DSEP Confident Me! lessons and a new lesson extension on Appearance Discrimination that will be available in 2022 were also introduced.
A highlight included cadre trainers new to DSEP in 2021 and those who have been a part of the cadre for a few years spending time talking, sharing, and learning from each other. Another highlight involved the regional teams of cadre each working on a project focused on their work in their region. The teamwork and creativity were amazing. Lastly, the brainstorming and carousel activity allowed for the gathering of ideas that can help DSEP continue to move forward productively.
The Dove Self-Esteem Project provides lessons supporting increased self-esteem and body confidence for students 11-to-14 years of age. Anecdotal stories from educators have informed us that some educators have benefited themselves from facilitating the lessons. We’ve been told they wish the lessons were around when they were children. Some of the cadre have said the same. Our youth are precious and we want to be a part of their healthy journey to adulthood. Spending time together focusing on how we can best bring awareness to educators, so more will implement and touch the lives of students with these materials was valuable. We have persevered. We are persevering. We are moving it forward with confidence.
It was a well spent two days.