Just like the little hands and feet we serve, our “Island of Safety” strives to grow and learn. There is no greater resource than learning from the experiences of those who have walked in the shoes of adversity. We recognize some of the greatest teachers are families in the community and the staff members within our walls.
In response to the crisis in our nation, Crisis Nursery staff gathered to be a listening ear to one another, support each other, and brainstorm how we can better provide an “Island of Safety” to ALL families and children in our community.
Here are a few actionable items that came out of the conversation:
- Crisis Nursery is implementing a zero tolerance policy for racist language. This policy will be enforced with staff, volunteers, donors, parents, and children.
- A new developmental domain is being added to Pockets of Play, which are activities for children in Crisis Nursery’s Safe Children program. This domain will focus on “My Culture” and will assist children in understanding various races, cultures, and life circumstances.
- We are planning a parent feedback forum to gather information and identify how services can be more inviting. This includes looking at the potential barriers to access and how to better create trust among our clients who are POC.
- A new topic of inclusivity will be added to weekly team meetings. During this time, staff are encouraged to share ideas or concerns they have to better serve families and children.
- Trainings are being circulated from external resources, as well as internal, to assist us in learning and growing together to become a better informed and culturally competent.
- We have added and will continue to add inspiring and inclusive messaging throughout the Nursery. Imagery in the spaces where children play is important and will help them feel more comfortable to see faces they identify with.
- The Nursery is proactively looking for books and toys to reflect diversity. New toys, books and other items were added to the Walmart Registry for Good and our Amazon Wish List, which will focus on cultural inclusivity.
Megan, one of four interns at the Nursery, is working on a semester-long project focused on inclusion and diversity. She will be looking for culturally inclusive books, dolls, and toys to add to our collection.
Not only will the added toys and books represent a variety of races, cultures and ethnicities, but also represent different disabilities, impairments including dolls with prosthetic limbs.
Children learn from their environment, which includes the toys they play with.
In 2016, Courtney Fletcher Bennett shared a video of her 10-year-old daughter Emma opening an American Girl doll box to find out the doll had a prosthetic leg just like Emma.
“It’s got a leg like me!” she screamed while crying tears of joy.
Mashable shared an article in 2018 explaining why children should have toys that look like them and included a list of inclusive toy options.
From the article:
According to psychologist Dr. Amber A. Hewitt, a specialist in gendered racial socialization, being exposed to diversity via toys has great benefits for identity development.
“An inclusive toy box can promote positive racial/ethnic, gender, and cultural identity development for children. It’s important for children to see themselves reflected in their toys,” Hewitt says. She explains that a lack of representation in a child’s toy box can send harmful messages ranging from “people who look like me don’t matter” to concerns that there aren’t others who look like them.
Our team will also be working on simple paper books to give children to take home. They will include a message regarding a particular social topic. An example might be how a child can embrace their culture, while appreciating and respecting others.
“We have books that reflect other cultures, dolls etc. (But our goal now is) to create more of that,” Safe Children Coordinator Jill Duden stated.
Since these issues are prevalent in the news and around the world, children may wonder what is going on and ask questions.
Lead Children’s Specialists and Family Specialists are discussing appropriate responses for different scenarios if children ask questions.
Crisis Nursery believes it’s important for children to see themselves in their environment whether that’s in the books they read, the toys they play with, or in the imagery they see. It’s also important to see the diversity of the world in those around you.
Our hope is to inspire young children to become confident and competent adults when they grow up.