Tree of Life: Resilient roots
I had an unconventional start in life as an infant fostered into a white family my early life experiences were layered in psychological complexity. A dark-skinned black girl living in a white rural village in the 80s I soon learnt my visual differences were not always welcomed or experienced as positive.
To overcome that experience, as I grew older, I had to learn ways to uncover the truth of who I was. I had to critically challenge the myth of black inferiority that taught me I was less than and devoid of anything worthy of celebration, by virtue of my race and gender.
And now, as a mother and therapist raising two bright and enchanting melanin rich girls, I am even more aware of how necessary it is to find ways to support our children and young people in developing a healthy sense of racial pride and to find ways to affirm and celebrate their brilliance. In a racialised society developing a positive racial identity can act as a buffer against anti-black discourse and support children and young people to create empowering and libertory counter narratives.
About the workshop
My aim is to support children and young people in this process through the delivery of Tree of Life sessions. Delivered as a workshop series or an average of 6 x 1:1 meetings, these sessions are safe spaces for young people of colour to come together with their peers, make art and share stories about their lives whilst celebrating their collective histories and ancestry.
Using art, storytelling, group work, guided meditations and stress reduction exercises, these sessions support children, and young people to uncover, rediscover or strengthen their inner wisdom, talents, skills, and characteristics all of which can be a source of power and act as a buffer against the impact of negative stereotyping and harmful narratives rooted in anti-black racism.
I also take time to acknowledge the many layers that make us dynamic human beings that expand beyond that of race, and we cannot be isolated or boxed in to one category. Placing an emphasis on racial development by celebrating melanin rich youths is a crucial component to their overall development and wellbeing.
About the activity
Spread over 6 – 7 sessions, participants are invited to draw a tree to represent different aspects of themselves and their lives.
By completing the 'tree of life' participants get to speak of their 'roots' (their ancestry), as well as their skills, knowledge, hopes, dreams for the future and the special people in their lives.
Children will get to tell, hear and explore stories of hope, shared values forming a stronger connection to family and those around them. It is an opportunity to learn from each other and to celebrate each other’s differences.
Build confidence and resilience.
Increase problem solving skills
Strengthen relationships with significant others e.g., family, friends, peers to widen support network.