Ironwood Maine Web Update

“Empathy is seeing the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”                                                                                                                          

Alfred Alder

            I have experienced two groups this week that I would like to share in this update. The first group was an experiential that was led by Chris P. that focused around the difference between the meaning of both empathy and sympathy. The second group was our CPR and First-aid training that is led by Chris J. which also includes a two year certificate that shows that we are trained to be a first responders. 

            In experiential this week, we continued to talk about inclusivity and exclusivity as well as starting to talk about what is the difference between empathy and sympathy. We got paired up in partners and told a short story that related to many prompts such as if we have ever been picked on in school. Each partner will have to remember their partner’s story until next week by memorization or writing it down. Then next week, each partner will share their partner’s brief story as if it was their own story to the group. Sharing these personal stories helps each student to be more vulnerable in letting others show empathy by understanding how their partner felt in their situation. 

            This week, the Farmhouse students had their third CPR and First AID training session with Chris J. I wanted to write about this because I find it amazing that the Farmhouse students have the opportunity to experience a First AID class and be able to earn a two year certificate as a first responder. This week, we learned how to do chest compressions and rescue breaths on dummies that simulated a real person in a real crisis. As we learned the technique of the compressions and the breaths, we also discovered how to know if they were working, as well as what to do if they weren’t working. I find it fascinating that one day one of us might have the chance to apply what we learn in this class on someone who really needs the help.

            This week has had many interesting groups, staff enrichment’s, and activities that very few kids in the world have an opportunity to do in their lifetime. Especially right now with COVID, people aren’t able to get into big gatherings nor take classes like we are able to do here. It is great that we are able to interact with other kids on a day-to-day basis and aren’t trapped at home not knowing what to do.

*This week’s author is yet another resident who is about to graduate and head home.  The very best chapter of the work that is, Ironwood.  

Last night, I spoke to the Dad of another “soon to graduate” resident and we reminisced about their family journey and all that has unfolded in these months together.  He shared his gratitude for what his family has learned while at Ironwood and it was so evident that I was listening to a man who has also transformed through this Ironwood experience.  He said that he and his wife are more forgiving now, more accepting of ideas that are not just theirs, they are becoming accustomed to letting go of their son who is crossing the line to adulthood and they are looking forward to and valuing their soon to be reunion, with a deeper sense of hope and love.  “I’m REALLY going to miss those trips to Maine”, he added!

This father has given more back to Ironwood than he probably knows.  Early on, he offered to do all that he could while his child was enrolled at Ironwood “and in any capacity.” He was a father that was sometimes demanding, but also generous, responsive, open…and kind.  I am grateful for getting to know him some for this brief period of time and it’s interesting to me…upon reflection…that the connection was only made possible through a child’s struggle.   Have a nice weekend!