There is a famous Chinese proverb: If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetimehelp somebody else.  

The Youth Advancement Department at Wardensville Garden Market is dedicated to providing opportunities that support our Junior Crew in developing ideas, setting and reaching goals, fostering healthy relationships, and developing employment skills.  We do this by utilizing the practice of experiential learning. Which, simply put, is learning by doing.

Let’s break it down even further. In order to successfully implement experiential learning opportunities, the Youth Advancement Department must carefully research and plan activities that support the desired outcomes of the learning experience. The planning process includes many components, one of which is social-emotional learning. 

Social-emotional learning consists of five core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness, and relationship skills. These core competencies are an integral part of the learning process and empower Junior Crew with abilities that directly impact their lives. 

So, what about that Chinese proverb? Giving to others is a way to invest in relationships, promote positive self-esteem, and instill a sense of purpose. These are the core components of social-emotional learning.

Over the past couple of months, the Junior Crew members have been engaged in our Holiday Cards project.  One goal of this project was to spread joy throughout our community this holiday season. The process of learning included many steps. Junior Crew members participated in a card-making workshop provided by a local community member and decided on the recipients.

They created over 100 cards and planned how these intricate cards would be distributed, then set off to give them to members of the community and frontline health workers. After the holiday season, they will review and reflect on the learning they acquired by being part of this project.

Not only has this project been a way to make this holiday season happier, but it also gave our Junior Crew a chance to become closer. “As a new Junior Crew member, I felt making the cards was fun and helped me bond with my coworkers. I got to know them a lot better, and we are really good friends now, said Elvira Camarillo, “This project made me feel great to be giving to people who help our community, and will help bring us together since we have been separated because of the quarantine, “.

The Junior Crew chose to mail cards to 50 local elders. They also wanted to show gratitude to our local health care professionals for being on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. Junior Crew member Emily Guerrero-Galindo was happy to thank these workers, “Medical professionals have been taking care of us since the pandemic started. I’m glad I could do something nice for them.”

These cards, along with cookies from our bakery were hand-delivered to EA Hawse Health Center and Wardensville Medical Center. Now that Junior Crew members are skilled in creating their own artisan, handmade greeting cards, we plan to make these available in our Market all year long. 

Giving is a gift for the recipient but, more importantly, a gift for the giver. As we wrap up 2020, let us reflect on the kindness, love, and friendship we have experienced and carry those lessons into 2021. May we continue to support our Junior Crew and help them develop skills they will carry with them throughout their lifetime.

Be on the lookout for more kindness projects from our Junior Crew. 

Michelle Holstein

Michelle Holstein

Program Development Manager

Hi, I’m Michelle and I am the Program Development Manager for the Youth Advancement Department. I have been a professional educator for 28 years. I enjoy painting and learning about art history. I love watching documentaries and reading Sci-Fi. My favorite author is Octavia Butler. My main goal in life is to maintain my passionate curiosity for learning new things.