How would you define respect? Kids in our summer Under the Sea program at one of our Fontana communities have agreed to define respect as how you feel about someone and how you treat them. This observation came out of planned exercises to practice the concept of respect with their peers and adults. They discovered that learning to be aware and understand the feelings of others around them creates a more emotionally safe environment in the community center – one that extends out to the broader community.
Learning about important social skills like respect is just one way our REACH approach helps our residents and their kids succeed in work and life. This five-letter acrostic focuses on key values that frame our services for kids, families, seniors, and those living with special needs. The R-E-S-P-E-C-T project in Fontana demonstrates the R value of REACH – Relationships in a Safe, Supportive Environment.
While the concept of respect is serious, Resident Services Coordinator Julissa Aldaraca made sure that fun exercises kept the concepts memorable. For example, kids squeezed toothpaste from small tubes, which represented the words they say. Julissa challenged them to try to take back their words by putting the toothpaste back in the tube. Kids saw first-hand how “words are like toothpaste: easy to come out, but almost impossible to get back in,” which helped them learn to think before speaking.
Providing a safe place is essential when asking kids to explore their feelings, along with encouragement and support as they learn to navigate different relationships. Julissa encouraged the kids to develop a working definition of respect. They created their own acrostic and posted it on the Respect Wall:
The kids were then encouraged to consider how they could practice respect with different people and places. They wrote their vows of respect on Post-it notes, and stuck them on the Respect Wall. They posted things like: “I vow to show respect by helping to clean up,” and, “I vow to be fair to people,” and, “I vow to show respect by always saying please and thank you and being polite to others.”