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  • Chondra Norman

A Dozen Weeks' Growth

Ashlar's Farm & Forest Program has been running for nearly fifteen weeks now, and the amount of growth we have witnessed in that period of time is nothing short of amazing. We started with such a sweet group of children- who ever would have guessed that the changes to come could have been this lovely? At 12 weeks, I took note of a few observations I had made that indicated to me that we have created a truly nurturing environment for our children to belong in, and an approach that helps them to thrive.


In a dozen weeks, I saw a little girl who had always been afraid to venture out from the eyesight of her immediate family, make a friend and gain the ability to walk hand in hand with another, trusting other hearts and getting lost in the moment, letting down her guard and allowing herself out of her family's reach for the first time in her life.


In a dozen weeks, I watched a little boy who slipped and tripped through the forest at first, unsure of himself, greatly improve his sense of balance and boost his confidence as he learned to hop more and more graciously around a stump circle that was almost impossible for him to navigate a few months before.


In a dozen weeks, I witnessed a child who found the outdoors unenjoyable, avoiding mud and dirt and weather, transform into a child who loves to run outside and dig right into whatever activity calls.


In a dozen weeks, I saw a child who was very timid and reserved open up to her mentors and peers and become a child who joins the fun around her, sometimes even leading the adventure herself, with a bold and joyful spirit.


In a dozen weeks, I witnessed a child who had experienced trauma in previous school settings find a comfortable place to learn and grow at Ashlar.


In a dozen weeks, I noticed a child who started the year straight-faced now has a smile to share.


In a dozen weeks, I saw a community form.


In a dozen weeks, I witnessed the total transformation of a small group of children. From timid to bold. From tense to relaxed. From anxious to adventurous. From hesitant to confident. From individuals to a community. From strangers to friends.


If we see this much growth in a small group of children in 12 short weeks, imagine how far that growth will stretch over time. Imagine in what ways our touch will reach the world.


Photo by Anne Todd Photography


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