The 2023 DSEP Cadre Trainer Retreat
By Antionette Meeks of Cairn Guidance, a Dove Self-Esteem Project Partner
Flight delays, flight cancelations, personal and family emergencies impacted this year’s Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) Cadre Trainer Retreat (Retreat). We were a bit smaller in size because of the flight cancelations and emergencies, but still purposeful. The Retreat seems to always recharge the cadre trainers, helping them become stronger advocates for the building of self-esteem and body confidence in students. Our theme was Unleashing Greatness: A Journey to Body Confidence. We definitely unleashed a lot of greatness during the Retreat.
The Retreat always feels like a family reunion. While the regional teams of the cadre trainers (cadre) see each other via virtual meetings, they do not see their regional team members or the other regional team members in person until the annual retreat. The excitement and energy are palpable.
Why do we do what we do? Who are the DSEP cadre trainers?
We do what we do because we believe in the present and the future of our children. We want to help them unleash their greatness! As the late astronaut and educator Christa McAuliffe said, “We touch the future”. While the cadre are educators themselves, they “touch” additional educators across the United States that engage with students. Their goal is to increase the awareness of educators about DSEP with the hope that these educators will choose to implement the lessons with their students. Educators walk with their students on their journey to body confidence. The outcomes can be tremendous when we think of that student who begins to blossom, become more body confident, and allows their self-esteem to shine.
The cadre are professionals, ranging from school counselors, health educators, physical educators, school district staff, a school psychologist working in the health education field on a national level, a school counselor who was just promoted to assistant principal, and university level professors of health, physical education, and social work. Two cadre are retired educators. We are 26 strong and represent 23 states across the United States. Three of the 26 focus on the Hispanic version of Confident Me!, Celebrándome.
DSEP cadre trainers have a passion for what they do. They engage with educators via webinars, in-person conference presentations, hosting in-person exhibit booths, sharing articles and blogs with school and district-level educators, university professors, state and regional organizations, and professional social media groups. DSEP provides researched, no-cost supplemental lessons and material that helps educators support their students to increase body confidence and self-esteem. We know students are overwhelmed with social media and professional media. They see images that no one can attain, including the models used in professional media. Many are also swept up by using tools that filter their appearance. DSEP combats these appearance ideals and media messages. We also help students learn how to banish body talk. The lessons and materials teach students to value themselves and others. They also learn about the different types of appearance discrimination students may face.
During the Retreat, presentations on the updated DSEP Confident Me! lessons, and the new Proud to Be Me, My Hair My CROWN, and Celebrándome curricula were provided.
The cadre had the opportunity to listen to these cadre-led presentations and participated in at least one activity associated with each of the curricula. They also learned more about the elementary focused Amazing Me lessons and participated in associated activities. Additionally, new cadre had an opportunity to meet with the cadre trainers who have been part of DSEP for several years. Hearing from those with experience was beneficial. An opportunity to meet in job-alike groups and regional teams, for planning, was also a positive addition to learning, sharing, and planning.
While we were about business, opportunities to network, share meals together, complete a scavenger hunt, participate in energizers, and enjoy Louisville was all part of the Retreat experience. The hotel, 21c Louisville, was an art gallery with a twist. Their hotel mascot is a red penguin. Red penguin statues are located in different places around the hotel and are moved daily by hotel staff and guests. Guests can even take a penguin into their hotel rooms. It was interesting to note where a penguin might be located on any given day. This was a first for many of us and added to the experience of staying in this art gallery hotel.
Evaluations indicate the agenda and activities were well received. New cadre shared they felt like family almost immediately. The energy in the room stayed high. There was laughter, quite a few discussions, and a lot of learning going on. It truly felt like the greatness in each cadre trainer had been unleashed. Being a part of the journey that helps students increase their body confidence and self-esteem is rewarding. Engaging educators who lead this charge is the icing!
To receive all of the Dove Self-Esteem Project curricula mentioned in this blog, complete the reach form HERE.