Anuj Singhal, a participant in Landmark Education’s Team, Management and Leadership Program in Vancouver, has created a project to bring a new context of possibility to the media, going beyond what he was ever capable of doing himself.
When Fred and Esther Hendrickson retired, they moved to a senior community in Plymouth, Indiana near their hometown. The community was created by a man who took six blocks of blighted real estate, tore it down and built brick buildings with sliding doors that opened into a courtyard in the middle. The goal was to provide seniors with a comfortable place to retire.
In 72 years of marriage, the Hendrickson’s raised a family, survived the Depression and a World War. When they were married in 1919, cars were just being developed. There were no televisions, microwaves, computers, calculators, icemakers, or washing machines. They didn’t even have indoor plumbing in the early years. It was a different world.
In retirement, Fred liked to sit in his La-Z-Boy and tell stories to his grandchildren.
He was old and bald, his granddaughter Sharole Beckman remembered. He was funny, witty and smart. He painted a picture of wherever he was in his mind, she said, recalling her childhood. I would rather be with him than my friends.
Forty years later, the experience of listening to her grandparents share the wisdom they gained throughout life inspired Beckman to create a project so that other children and grandchildren will have an opportunity to get related to their families in a way that will live on for generations to come.
People often die with their song unsung, Beckman said. We live life; work hard, get it all figured out and then we get old, retire and die. [Often] all that experience, knowledge, wisdom, and insight is never shared. I see an incredible resource of information, wisdom, and love that needs to be tapped.
As part of her participation in Landmark Education’s Team Management and Leadership Program (TMLP), Beckman created Life Legacies, Generations Connected, a game that will give people the opportunity to sing their songs and tell their stories.
It’s a big game with a lot of players. I am enrolling friends, colleagues, senior agencies, said Beckman, who is in her first quarter on Team 1. She intends that by December 2012, there will be a Life is a Legacy presence in every state.
She has assembled a team to create an interactive web site called LifeIsALegacy.com. For a small fee families will be able to access user friendly templates and create their own stories that will profile and showcase the lives of seniors as well as future family members and the difference each one has made. It also will serve as a social networking site allowing families to stay in touch out.
Her team is conducting interviews of seniors, profiling their lives, dreams, wisdom, and advice. They are encouraging seniors to share their victories as well as heartaches, demonstrating that experience is the best teacher. No matter how challenging life can be, the human spirit is victorious.
The provoking questions on the templates bring seniors present to the value of their lives as they recall and share. The questions and answers are designed to enrich the lives of the family members and create a role model and foundation for the youth, however two of the questions may have the greatest impact on both the storyteller and the reader.
The first question, As a child, what did you dream of being when you grew up? is designed to connect people to their dreams and gain awareness to the value and legacy of the life they did pursue and that it’s not over till it’s over.
The next question, Did you ever realize that dream? looks at how easy it is to get off track from what our heart really desires, settling for something less in the name of being realistic.
What we want to look at here is the possibility that the life we created and the choices we made, that took us in another direction, were just as valid and had an impact, not only in our lives, but others – like the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, said Beckman.
Her goal is to have future generations enriched with the
knowledge and lessons from their ancestors through this virtual story book of memoirs that the entire family will treasure for generation to generation.
What everyone has to show for life is who they’ve been that can leave an impression on generations to come. All too often children’s dreams become short lived. With the Internet, mobile phones, and 24-hour news cycles, children are much more aware of, and concerned with, problems facing our society. Beckman believes that many children skip the magical childhood adventures that come from creating something from nothing.
Today’s children jump from babies to adults. They are not allowed to be children anymore, said Beckman. A generation or two ago, parents and grandparents taught us to create. They taught us ways of being – they taught us to say please and thank you, to be civilized.
Today’s family members operate more independently than in the past where everyone ate together, prayed together, played together, and parents knew the parents of their children’s friends.
The team has marveled at the answers children give when asking, ‘What do your grandparents do?’ Often the answer is, ‘They shop and buy me things.’ The Life is a Legacy project will transform that point of view.
They don’t know who their grandparents are, Beckman said. I want children to experience some of the joy that I carry with me, my strength, integrity, self esteem, and ability to dream — I inherited it. The vision my parents and grandparents instilled in me was a result of getting to know them and spending time. Through LifeisaLegacy.com, they’ll be able to visit and re-visit the rich history of loved ones and truly see the contribution as a legacy.
The ultimate goal of this project, is Life is a Legacy Living Centers, communities that allow seniors to retire comfortably and lead active lives contributing to the community, like the community her grandparents lived in when she was a child. The best stories from LifeIsALegacy.com will be published in a book. The proceeds from the website and book will go to subsidize the living centers.
The experience of creating a team to connect generations has left Beckman inspired by people’s willingness to be generous and selfless as a result of sharing a cause that is greater than one’s self.
There is no end to resources that are out there if we keep asking, “What’s next?”
For Beckman, what’s next is completing her game of allowing people to share their legacy with generations to come. And by playing this game, she will add a piece to her legacy as well.
Imagine feeding 200 children with only $50. To some of us, this sounds like a dream. However, Nidhi Malik from Team Toronto has turned this dream into reality. Her Team Management and Leadership Program
Game In the World, Feed Little Tummies, provides food for poor children who live in the slums of India.
Nidhi enrolled friends and acquaintances in the United States, Canada and India into her game by sharing her possibility of Love, Abundance and Cherished Childhood. She uses what she calls “Feed Little Tummies Magic Jars” to collect the funds. In one conversation she raised $50. These contributions were sent to Nidhi’s parents and in-laws, her team players in India, who purchased food from a local store. On three separate days in January and February, food was distributed directly to approximately 200 children in need on each occasion.
Nidhi’s commitment is to have gatherings to raise $50 every two weeks and to empower others to raise awareness and start their own “Feed Little Tummies Magic Jars.” She has created a team with members in Toronto and Los Angeles who are raising funds through magic jars in their homes. Currently her team has raised $900 since January 2010. Her vision is to enroll a corporation in India to expand the project through sponsorships.
Before joining the Team Management and Leadership Program (TMLP), Nidhi was very afraid of rejection and what her friends and family might think of her. Her reasons and circumstances kept her from living her dream.
“When I became a parent I dreamt of a world where all kids are cherished and loved. I wanted to create a hunger free world for children,” Nidhi said. “I thought that there is nothing I can do right now because of all my own responsibilities. How can I help these kids so faraway?”
By participating in TMLP, “I get that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. This is a game that I would have taken on later in life but the Team Management and Leadership Program inspired me to take on my dreams right now,” said Nidhi.
Slums are commonplace where Nidhi was raised, in a suburb of New Delhi, India. “Families that live in the slums come running when they see food,” she said. Nidhi understands the daily struggles of children who are raised in poverty.
“Their experience of life is one of being unappreciated and unwanted. I am a stand that every child be taken care of,” she said. “If children are fed they will go to school. They do not have to work or beg to feed themselves. People can take advantage of hungry children and make them do illegal activities.”
Asked about what she envisioned for all children in India, Nidhi replied, “Anyone can entice you with one meal, but if you know that food is consistently available, then education, health and the arts would be considered more than basic amenities. If children did not have to worry about food, they could start making a difference for themselves and others.”
Through her game, Nidhi is doing more than feeding children in her home country. She is nourishing the future of India and demonstrating that any and all of us can make a difference anywhere in the world.
Five years ago Denise Clarke found her calling when she started teaching her first functionally non-verbal student. Serving students with complex physical and communication needs has given Denise a sense of fulfillment, while inspiring her to begin a conversation around taking education of special needs students to a different level.
As a result of the training she received in Landmark Education’s Team Management and Leadership Program (TMLP), Denise took on the position of Academic Program Director at Standing Tall Inc., a private school for special needs students who are functionally nonverbal.
The particular education that has been delivered at her school is known as “Conductive Education,” often described as rehabilitation through learning. Developed by Dr. Andras Peto in Budapest, Hungary, in 1948, this unique and intensive group method of special education expects and demands active learning and participation by the child in attempting to overcome his/her motor disability, which could include cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, cerebral vascular accidents, and others.
Trained “conductors” work as generic therapists. The conductors are responsible for facilitating education, utilizing concepts of goal directed activity, verbal regulation, and group dynamics. The method is a kind of occupational therapy based on the idea that a damaged brain can be retrained for problem solving.
The child’s active learning, within this group, is supported by “rhythmic intention” — using counting, songs, and rhythmical games — to provide the child with a basis of normal movement. This engages the child’s inner language in order to independently voice motor directions to him or herself, and ultimately incorporate these motor patterns into everyday life. Conductive Education focuses on the whole person, recognizing physical, social, intellectual, and emotional aspects of learning. Focus is on functional skills such as dressing, feeding, and walking.
While this method has proven to be very successful in developing functional skills, Denise saw an opportunity to build on this model and take it to a different level. To do this, she created a game called, “All Together Now,” with the goal of creating an outcome where all students are excited, inspired, and eager to share what they’re learning; teachers have access to having all students fulfill on their possibilities; families are thriving inside of what is possible; and all people experience each other as unique, undeniable, and valuable contributions to society. Denise’s team members for her game included three of the “conductors”/teachers at her school, two other professional colleagues from other schools who are experienced teaching similar special needs students, and a parent of the one of the students at her school.
The idea is to adapt New York State Education Standards so that it can be incorporated for use by special education teachers. Training to become a “Conductor” has traditionally been focused on child development education. “All Together Now” intends to expand that model to include training on how to actually teach the subject matter mandated by the New York City Dept. of Education. Thus far the results of her game include the development of a modified curriculum based on the standardized NYC Dept. of Education elementary school curriculum. This is being implemented by the staff at her school in all academic areas. Different bodies of the staff are coordinating, collaborating, and creating new opportunities for action. Students are no longer distracted and tuned out. They are engaged and focused. Their level of comprehension has markedly improved.
Up until now students exposed to the traditional Conductive Education methodology could be expected to be alert and excited, but not have much to be excited about. They were missing a context to be intrigued about. They were ripe and ready to take on the world, but without the context of how the world actually works. With the introduction of the revised education and training regime of the “All Together Now” program, students are now participants in their own life. They are no longer spectators.
As an example, there is one little girl in Denise’s school that was extremely distracted prior to the introduction of the modified program. She would have a big beautiful smile for everyone; she appeared to be a happy, sweet, warm child. However, there was no way to discern what she actually knew or what she preferred. Now, after being exposed to the modified learning techniques of “All Together Now,” this child uses her eyes to point out icons that are used to express her answers to questions. She can communicate non-verbally by reaching out for items. She can change her facial expressions to give yes or no responses to questions. She uses her voice by making sounds to give more substance to her answers.
Other students are similarly more alert and responsive and eager to show what they know. As Denise said, “They now look directly into my eyes while they express themselves non-verbally, and they use their bodies to express their excitement—this was not something these students did before.”
The future that is being created is that “Standing Tall Inc.” and other similar private special needs schools will successfully cause the modification of the public school’s special needs students’ curriculum practices, policies, and staff development, thereby bringing an empowering context to how all students are educated.
Through Denise’s experience with her game, and with her training and development in the Team Management and Leadership Program, she was able to transform the conversations she had “inherited” about special education. She found that by creating multiple outcomes in single conversations, and causing conversations between others that created new and exciting opportunities, she could begin creating a different and more rewarding experience for not only her special education students in her school, but for educators and students in the New York City public school system.
“I was able to give up my resistance and fear of failure, and in so doing, get the opportunity to celebrate the success of my students. What’s more, the power I now feel is reflective in all areas of my life. If life is given by the quality of my relationships, then I now consider my life extraordinary.
Her experience of leading Feel the Connection has also shifted from having a project outside of herself, to being the clearing for the possibility that the organization fulfills. She now experiences herself as powerful and able to take on being accountable with ease. “It has shifted from being a game to being myself.”
by Larry Smith
Gloria Webster’s Game is called “The DIVA Series.” Through her coaching work with women over the past thirty-five years, Gloria noticed that the word “DIVA” traditionally represents “girly girl” and other gender stereotypes. Gloria created a new meaning for the world “DIVA” through an acronym: DIVA stands for Discovery, Imagination, Victory (over the past) through forgiveness, and being Authentic. It is a self-discovery process consisting of conversations, music, and journaling that in Gloria’s words, “guides women back to what they want.”
Gloria says the process is ideal for women close to age forty. She feels that most women have childhood dreams they’re passionate about, but that “life gets in the way,” leading them to other choices in life that are not an authentic expression of themselves. Gloria has found that women around forty are often at a crossroads; they still have twenty or more years left in the prime of their lives and are often very willing to re-examine their life’s journey in the grand scheme of things. The DIVA Series gives women the opportunity to rediscover themselves and find that passionate dream.
Gloria created The DIVA Series through her participation in the Landmark Forum. She is currently in the process of designing training modules and teaching other women to become trainers for The DIVA Series process.
A friend of Gloria’s, who was a nurse, recently completed the Discover Workshop which is part of The DIVA Series and is now going to culinary art school and “living life to the fullest.” Out of the conversations around the DIVA processes other product lines have emerged including “DIVA Jewelry” and “DIVA Skin Care.” There’s also a “DIVA Dictionary,” where participants invent new DIVA language. One example is the word “DIVA-licious.”
For years, Gloria wanted to start a business, but didn’t have the courage to take the first step. Team Management Leadership Program has provided for Gloria with a new lease on who [she is]” and “making [her] dream a reality.”
As for the future, as part of The DIVA Series, Gloria will be leading a retreat in Puerto Rico in September of 2009. She now has a team of six people helping her create the training modules and she’s promising to have these complete by the Newport Beach weekend.
Gloria Webster, Team Washington, DC