Tag Archives: education

Toronto men against violence…….. wearing those shoes……

Further to my post of yesterday.

Here are men in Toronto showing their support for White Ribbon Day. Stop violence against women walk.


Saying a warm farewell to a wonderful influence in my life

I learnt on Monday this week that a woman who influenced so much of my life had passed away aged 90 years.

Marie Bell’s name first came into my consciousness as a young child when my parents spoke of her and when my uncle (who was a colleague of hers) visited us. In the way that young children absorb things I knew that this woman was special and respected.

As a committee member of Wellington Parents Centre back in 1982 I met Marie for the first time. She ran some group skills training sessions for us and my notes indicate that in the first session we covered:
Welcoming techniques; feedback from practical exercises we participated in: a group discussion using the “fish bowl” technique; more feedback; introducing a film, how to use films in an ante-natal class; a general session to finish up the day.

All the time she was training us Marie would be saying “you can do this.” She was so encouraging and so passionately of the opinion that these skills were to be passed on by her and then from us to other parent volunteers. Learning through the experiential techniques she used, we came to realise that she was right. Empowerment happened.

For me the following points were gems from Marie and they were points that I carried in my facilitator’s toolkit and which I believe are still vital and timeless in any group situation:
 Establish ground rules at any group meeting using group input to set these up
 Time spent in planning every detail of a group pays off – the relationship with the group is critical
 Things that look informal work the best in terms of getting feedback from the group
 Prepare a climate for participation
 Seek solutions – involve all group members

People and relationships were key to Marie. She cared deeply for humans of every age and for their health and well-being across all relationships. Her early childhood work reached my parents as they raised me and reached me at Playcentre with our third child.

Her adult education skills reached me through out all my years in Parents Centre. I was aware of her political voice in the Labour Party, her roles at Victoria University and her magnificent achievement later in life as she completed her PhD documenting the early pioneers of Parents Centre.

A story that she told, that has stayed with me, was, of a course in Assertiveness that she and some other women in Wellington set up in the 1970s. This was new stuff and the organizers only expected a handful of women to enroll. Hundreds, in fact, indicated their interest and in true style Marie and her group accommodated this and the courses ran with tremendous results and ongoing ripple effects.

I have so much to thank Marie for. She taught me a love of facilitation and the skills to use and so many other life long skills – listening, assertiveness, setting up a group, running effective meetings, group dynamics, parenting, healthy relationships and all the while she modelled of all these skills with an openness, a warmth and a wonderful sense of humour and care.

She was about grass roots movements, life long learning, empowerment, inclusion, peacefulness, healthy people, healthy relationships, early childhood education, the importance of the child’s holistic well being and development, women’s rights, the important role that men play in families and so many other positive causes.

Her influence has spread far and wide and her legacy will live on in so many ways.

Arohanui Marie

Graduation week

It is graduation week in the family. On Monday I attended the graduation ceremony for my adult daughter as she received her recently gained qualification. She studied a course that is only provided by the Open Polytechnic so all her learning was via distance.

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The venue on Monday was full of adults of all ages and stages who had somehow managed the incredible juggle of distance study, paid employment, family demands and the usual routines and requirements of every day living. To complete any academic qualification is a feat but to study alone brings even more challenges along the way.

Those of us who had stood alongside the students, supporting them as best we could, were well represented too and we clapped and cheered heartily as the ceremony progressed and the achievements were acknowledged.

Cameras clicked and flashed, a supper was offered to share after all the formalities were completed and we all had a very happy time. My father always said that studying was a burden at the time but the qualification was no weight to carry once achieved. There was evidence of lightness in the gathered crowd of graduates on Monday night.

On Friday this week I will attend another graduation. This time it is for my three year old grandson as he has completed his “Born to learn” programme under the Parents as First Teachers scheme.The invitation sets out an hour or more of fun activities, music, story time, presentation of certificates and a cake to cut. The programme that he and his parents were part of has been a rich mine of learning, sharing, relating and empowering. It has been a wonderful support to the new family, offering another strand in his development and bolstering the foundations of all learning through play.


I regularly use this phrase “I love to get the juice out of things.” But what do I mean by that?

For me it is about looking deeper, looking wider and looking again.

It might be “getting the juice” out of producing a good crop of garlic. It might be after I’ve seen a movie or attended a concert or meeting.

Sometimes the “juice” might be new learning; sometimes it might be new understanding: sometimes it might be more questions or puzzles to think on and other times new responses or feelings.

The endless possibilities that might arise from “getting the juice” are a really attractive part of this process for me and helps feed the naturally very curious part of me.

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Walk this way

The mayor of our city is the youngest mayor in New Zealand. He is young and innovative and has been showing the way to healthy fitness and weight management by walking and swimming.

Last night in my suburb, which has a network of walkways, the first of the Mayoral walks was undertaken.

“Join the Mayor and “bend his ear” on the Porirua Mayoral Walk Series
Porirua is home to a beautiful harbour and a stunning array of spectacular landscapes and – but often we’re too busy to take the time to explore everything our city has to offer.
Mayor Nick Leggett has organized a series of “Mayoral Walks” that will allow residents, community groups and businesses to join him in taking full advantage of Porirua’s awesome natural assets – and help keep fit and healthy at the same time!” Source: Porirua City Council Website.

The route through our suburb included our street and we watched as 40 people participated in the walk with the Mayor. I’m not sure how much talking to the Mayor was happening as we live in a hilly part of the area but it was good to see a new approach to celebrating the walking tracks in our city, led by the city leader and some of the councillors.

Stress management tips for Friday

Here are a few tips to reduce stress that I have found in a pile of resources today. They seem worth sharing and even having a laugh over perhaps:

 States of chronic alertness result in the storage of unused adrenalin, sugar, lactate, urine and hormones
 Have a good laugh or cry
 Recall your successes, they can help you through your defeats
 Loosen your jaw, let it sag
 Let your shoulders drop
 Relax your hair and scalp
 Uncurl your fingers and toes
 Let your stomach hang out!
 Slow down your breathing. Fill your stomach with breath as if it was a frog’s.
 Set time aside each day to do something slowly and just for yourself
 Say “No” to a demand on your time.
 Take some time out for you over the coming weekend

Promoting goodness

My friend and colleague, Marian Kerr has just launched two e-books, one entitled “The Confidence Connection” and the other “Positive words are powerful” via her website and I would warmly encourage you to visit, check out the details and purchase them either for yourself or for someone you know. The two books make a wonderfully complementary self development programme.

We are both passionate about empowerment and work to support others to be who they really are and to reach their full potential.

I did some proof-reading and feedback for Marian as she wrote and formatted the e-books and found my attention to her encouraging words and non-judgemental tone meant my step was lighter, my self awareness sharper and my sense of resilience increased.

I have been thinking a lot about confidence in the past few days as I watch two people close to me wrestle with making courageous steps in their lives, asking as Marian puts it “what am I capable of?”

Each of the e-books contain quotes, personal experiences, tips, guidance, exercises to complete and always a strong positive and encouraging tone. The benefits of reading and completing the material in the e-books would include increased capability, resilience, self acceptance, growth, confidence and a richer more enjoyable life.

These benefits are too good to miss!

P.S. As a bonus, on her website Marian offers a free e-book “Empowerment: Live life your way”

Saturday tip: On which side of the line are you?

I was offered this question at a training event I attended some years ago. Karen Boyes of Spectrum Education showed this to the group:

On which side of the line are you operating?


I’ll leave it to you to decide about this tip but I find it very, very useful to be mindful of….and it is a quick jump to go back over the line to the top!