For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we visited the children at Hodori After-School program at Korean American Family Center in Queens to celebrate Halloween in our costumes!
The Korean American Family Service Center (KAFSC) is a leading, nonprofit organization that is committed to preventing and ending domestic violence and relationship abuse, and creating a violence-free society. The Hodori Program first opened its doors to the community in 1994 with programs providing support to children from mostly low-income families through creative enrichment activities and academic development programs. HappyDoll is very lucky to have the opportunity to work with KAFSC, thanks to our friend and Development Director, Min!
This was a special HappyDoll session, where we invited two actors from InViolet Rep, ERIN and SAM to engage the children in a theater workshop and inspire the children for the HappyDoll making session. (What a coincidence...Guess the color of the Domestic Violence Awareness Ribbon...VIOLET!) After we explained the "HappyDoll" concept, Erin and Sam helped the kids brainstorm about what their HappyDolls would look like. What color hair will they have? Eyes? How old do you think they are? Some kids screamed "Red hair!" or "Mine will have different colored eyes because it's special!" Finally, we all came up with our "HappyDoll sound" that would represent our HappyDolls' characters and shared it with the group!
After the workshop, the kids couldn't wait to express their new ideas using their HappyDolls. Many reached anxiously for the color pens and immediately started to design their dolls with overwhelming enthusiasm!
SAM, one our guest actors had a very touching experience with one of the girls sitting near her, who had asked her to read the message written on the back of her HappyDoll. SAM was having difficulty reading her handwriting so she asked the girl to read it for her. She pointed at the words and said proudly, "It says 'I don't know you, but I love you!"
SAM, our guest actor really knows how to connect with the kids!
SAM also shared an inspiring story with the girl who wrote "Shine Up!" on her HappyDoll. When SAM asked what it meant to her, she explained that her "inner, inner, inner part" was always happy but sometimes things happened that would make her sad. "When those things happen" she said, "I tell myself to 'Shine up!' and I remember to be happy again." Sam thanked her for sharing her story and told the girl that she too can become sad sometimes, but from now on, she'll always tell herself to "shine up".
"Shine up!" says her HappyDoll:)
When everyone finished designing their HappyDolls, we all came together in a circle and placed the HappyDoll suitcase in the center for the BON VOYAGE CEREMONY. When they felt ready, each child would walk up to the center of the circle and say their HappyDoll's name and hug them farewell. "Good Bye, Ashly!" "Good Bye, Ninja Star!" The kids yelled at the top of their lungs as they hugged their HappyDolls one last time. "Safe Travels!"
"I love youuuuu!!!"
Our HappyDoll Suitcase is overflowing!
By the way, this event was already covered by the Korea Daily!
We asked our Korean Canadian HappyDoll Intern, JAE, to translate the article for us:
"Students of NY After-School Program Hodori, are presenting the dolls they made on October 25th at the Flushing JHS189 Middle School. With the helpf of NPO HappyDoll, these children made dolls symbolizing hope. HappyDoll will send these dolls to children in need all over the world, including areas like Japan and other countries"
The HappyDolls made by the kids at the Hodori After-School Program will be traveling to another country to make other children. Some of the destinations we have in mind are: Vietnam, Japan, Honduras, Germany and South Africa. Check back to find out where these dolls travels to!