Making Connections Through Mindfulness

Lily Zeng ’22, creates “Grab and Go” summer reading packages for the local kids in her community.

This summer 25 students were accepted in the CSGC grants program. These grants are funded due to the generous support of the Cost, Earle/Mendillo and Workman families, who established endowment funds to support the community and public service endeavors of future generations of Deerfield students. For more information on these grants please visit: https://deerfield.edu/csgc/grants.

When I was little, the local public library was my safe haven. I especially loved going during the summer months, where there would be tons of reading programs, enrichment camps, and more. The library was a major influence in my love for reading and learning.

This summer, however, is different. Due to social distancing guidelines, the kids in my community don’t have the same in-person programs and camps that I was able to enjoy. With the help of the CSGC grant, I am assembling “Grab and Go” packages to supplement the current Summer Reading program (where kids can log the books they have read in exchange for small prizes).

These “Grab and Go” packages include small toys, candy, and decorated notes of encouragement, but I also hope to help kids connect with the library’s values of education, a sense of purpose and responsibility in the world, and, of course, just developing an appreciation for reading. So, in addition to the small goodies, I wanted to focus on mental health awareness, a topic I am very passionate about. Each package includes a free book about mindfulness, as well as information and resources to help kids better understand the topic of mental health. I have also included lists of things kids can do at home to keep themselves intellectually stimulated over the summer, book lists, and ideas for community service (ex: making dog toys for the local animal shelter).

I am currently working on a plan to set up some sort of email subscription in which I can send weekly resources for all sorts of topics, like continuations on mental health, more ideas for community engagement, STEM, reading, and anything else kids might be interested in.

I hope that, although these packages offer a different experience from a normal summer, something in them will inspire the kids in my community one way or another. I feel like it is the least I can do, especially in a time when resources are limited and kids might find themselves feeling isolated or unstimulated at home. Because of a surge of technology use in kids, the number of kids visiting the library has definitely decreased in the past 10 years, and the social distancing this summer is certainly not helping. I hope these packages can play a part, even if only a small one, in bridging the gap between kids and all that the library has to offer.

Thanks to the CSGC for providing the funds to purchase the mindfulness books– I am so grateful for all your support!

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