Brightening Lives Activity Benefits New Bright Space
We recently opened our first Bright Space in partnership with a police department in Aurora, IL. One way that Bright Horizons teams can stay connected to local Bright Spaces are Brightening Lives Activities. These volunteer opportunities connect Bright Horizons employees and center families to the Bright Space in simple yet meaningful ways. Lynn Fichtel, Bright Horizons teacher and Bright Space Connector volunteer, recently held a Brightening Lives Activity to support this new Bright Space. Check out what she did in her own words below – and thanks for sharing your story Lynn!
by Lynn Fichtel, Teacher
I talked with my fellow Connector, Detective Hillgoth, about her role, and I asked her how else we could make a positive impact in the lives of children. She shared that since she does forensic investigations for cases of abuse, neglect, or witness to violence, often a child may have to be removed from their home and then wait at the police station for another family member or DCFS to take custody. She said that the children have lost everything they know.
I took my notes home and brainstormed, and the idea of a “bedtime” bag came to mind: a reusable bag containing a child-sized blanket, book, and small stuffed animal that a child could take with them. My hope with the bedtime bag was that it would give a child some familiar and comforting items for overnight to help create a sense of security.
In order to engage our school, we ordered canvas bags so that the children and families could decorate and personalize them. I also reached out to a local mom’s group and police wives group to explain the project I was doing, and they agreed to do a collection between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I would encourage people to “leverage their resources or networks.” In my experience, people are very eager to assist.
We chose to do the Brightening Lives Activity after the opening of the Bright Space so that we could invite Detective Hillgoth, and parents could meet her in person. It would be a positive way for parents and children to interact with someone from the police department and she could answer questions or elaborate to them on how the Bright Space has been impactful to the work that the investigators do and why the bedtime bags mean so much.
We invited families through email with the weekly newsletter and asked teacher to put reminders about the event through the My Bright Day app. We also created a Facebook event for it.
On the day of the event, we had signs on each door letting families know they could create a bedtime bag with us in the Movement Matters zone, and we had it written on our chalkboard sign in the lobby. I greeted families as they came into the space and let them know they were welcome to decorate a few bags, and when they were ready, I was happy to help them in stuffing their bag. Everyone was personally thanked for their time and donation. The kids were free to pick which book, animal, etc., and I would get down on their level to help them see what they could select from. They were also welcome to stuff their bag with their own donations.
Completed bags were then placed into boxes. After decorating and completing their bags, we had pizza, salad, and fruit platters put out next door in our STEM lab and families could eat and mingle with each other and talk with Detective Hillgoth. We created 50 bags for the detective to take back to our Bright Space.
We have developed a robust library of Brightening Lives Activities ideas and step-by-step instructions. Brightening Lives Activities build bonds between volunteers and agencies by encouraging a dialogue between the agency with the Bright Space and Bright Horizons volunteers. Check out our Brightnening Lives Activities resource page for more information, or contact us at email@example.com.