Sally, by students in Ms. Kent’s class

Once upon a time there was a girl named Sally. Sally Hensen was her full name. Sally lived on a farm until she was 12.

Sally Hensen was a very nice, kind, and generous girl. When she was in first grade, she would always share her snack with her classmates (which she wasn’t supposed to do).

When she got older she shared even more and more; she shared even more than her snacks. Every month she would go with her mom to go to the clothing donation with her mom to donate some clothes to the homeless.

On the day she was told she was moving, she was excited and scared and she was going to live with her cousins in Cornelia Town. Her parents couldn’t move because there was too much work on the farm.

Coping with COVID-19 as a graduate student, by Zaima Ahmed

“Very thankful to experience these enchanting trees on my everyday walks” – Zaima Ahmed

COVID -19 entered all of our lives without any notice. Our everyday normal lifestyle has been disrupted and there is a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds. It can be quite difficult when this is the first time you have experienced being at home all day and trying to get everything done from home. Quarantine has come with a lot of pain of not being able to meet friends and family and doing the things we love doing.

I am a student who recently graduated from a Graduate certification program in Marketing at  York University. COVID-19 entered my life when I reached almost the end of my program where there were many project deadlines. It became really challenging for me when all of my classes switched from in person to online. I no longer had in class activities or detailed lectures that I used to have before, no in person group meetings and everything had to be sorted online which was a big challenge for me. Apart from that, managing my groceries, observing proper safety measures, finding essential items that were out of stock and  the non-stop news and social media coverage on the pandemic were adding to my challenges. 

My mental health kept deteriorating and I realized that my mindset needed some change. 

I reminded myself that it was normal to have challenges in life and I have to accept that and face it with a positive mindset. If I didn’t help myself, I wouldn’t be able to help my loved ones, too. So I decided to find some resources online to help myself cope with this pandemic. 

I really liked the Child Mind Institute’s online blog post, “Anxiety and Coping with the Coronavirus,” by Rachel Ehmke. In this Blog post, Rachel shares some tips on dealing with anxiety in a healthy way.  The first tip that was super helpful to me was about tolerating uncertainty: the treatment for anxiety was not to make fear go away but to manage fear and tolerate uncertainty.  Anxiety and fear are both a part of our lives and there is nothing that exists that will make them fully vanish from our lives. From time to time they will appear and we need to accept them and face them with courage. This tip helped me to take my first step towards a positive mindset. 

“Lovely orange tulips brightens my day whenever I see them”

The second tip was to start regularly practising meditation, which is a tool to help people stay calm and grounded in the present moment by not getting caught up in the future or the past.  This was something that really helped me focus on my daily tasks instead of getting caught up in my thoughts about things I was worried about. I started practising meditation using the “Headspace” app. I did a few free sessions before buying the full premium version. At first it was very difficult for me to stay calm, but slowly I began to master this skill after doing a couple of sessions. 

Along with meditation, exercising for at least 30 minutes at home regularly has really made me feel more active and energetic and has also helped my mood stay more positive throughout the day. Since I was at home all day I was moving less so I realized that exercising more frequently was really important for my health. I did some Cardio workouts using my home elliptical machine and also did many HIIT workouts watching Fitness Blender workout videos on YouTube. 

My mother suggested that I pick some of my hobbies and start planning out some activities in my routine to make my days enjoyable. Now that summer has come, it’s the perfect weather to take beautiful photographs outside, so I started taking photographs of beautiful trees, flowers and birds. I love taking photographs and it made me feel great and calm. I also started baking new cake recipes I never tried before for my family. I am not someone who is great at cooking so when the cakes turned out great, I felt great. 

I am a Muslim who prays 5 times a day. My daily prayers and my faith and hope in God has given me the strength to keep going during this painful time. I believe that storms don’t last forever and soon better days are coming. Every suffering that we all go through in life is designed to help us learn, grow and become better individuals. 

We all need to strive towards a positive and healthy mindset during this pandemic so that we can support each other and survive this together. Human beings have been blessed with a lot of potential and are capable of doing so many things. I believe that we can stay strong and go through this too.

“Chini observing her new toy”

Online StoryMakers

Previously, we shared with you the characters our online StoryMaker students have developed, but every character needs a setting for the story!

Breaking the usual 3 hour workshop into more bite-size one hour online workshops, the second sessions of these have seen some fantastical settings developed and come to life by our Story Planet artists.

Drago’s Enchanted Forest

Squidson Washington III’s Cloud World

Doughnut City

Hakuna’s Spacious Jungle

The success of these workshops has even spurred us to develop a new workshop, which we are excited to be unveiling publicly soon!

A few more words on our StoryMaker from teachers and students:

“Story Maker gave my grade 5 students the opportunity to further utilize their own creativeness and broaden their understanding towards nonfiction and fiction stories.” –  Ms. Darote

“My opinion about Story Planet is terrific…..that’s because it’s like acting but you aren’t acting in a sense this makes me feel like I can just feel free and say whatever comes to mind because I know that they’ll accept it.” – Treshauna (student)

What has Story Planet been up to recently?

We have been working with four different classes to bring the magic of the StoryMaker workshop live to Zoom! Breaking up each workshop into three weekly one-hour meetings, these workshops allow the kids involved to momentarily leave behind the confines of their houses – some of whom have not left since the lock-down began – and indulge in their imaginations. For others, it’s a rare chance to log online and see their friends face to face. Although still far removed from the normality of a classroom and face-to-face meetings, being able to connect and bridge our worlds through Zoom has sparked dozens of embers we are excited to watch grow into bigger stories.

What the teachers are saying

I have had the immense pleasure of working with Story Planet several times over the last few years but I have never appreciated them as much as I do now during these challenging times.” Heidi Seibert (teacher)

This is the first time since the lock-down started that it feels like school!” – Mr Ahmad

The writing has been great, the kids are loving it! I’m so excited and proud of my kids for what they’ve done” – Ms Kent

And here are the characters over 40 students have collectively imagined:

Four-eyed Willy, Thunderhorn, and Snowy

Blake III and Hakuna

Sicky The Germ Monster

Zord – a half human, half T-Rex!

Squidson Washington III and Drago

To ensure we can keep supporting more students during the lock-down and beyond, donate to Story Planet here: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/13205 or via the link at the top of this page.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter (link below) to ensure you stay up to date with more virtual events in the making!

The Cupcakery of Imagination and Love

Welcome to the Cupcakery of Imagination and Love!  A building where people can eat, dance, tell jokes, read, do yoga, play, and have a great time.  The Cupcakery has a rollercoaster that takes visitors from room to room.  

One day, Bella Nora, who was half dragon-half bunny rabbit, visited the Cupcakery of Imagination and Love.  They were meeting their best friend, Narutoo. He was upstairs practicing yoga, waiting for Bella Nora to arrive.  Narutoo had recently dyed his hair to look like fire and ice, and was sporting a cape.

Bella Nora and Narutoo were meeting to discuss what to do with the Dark Lord, who was trying to destroy the world for the fifth time that year.  This time he went too far and had plotted to take over the Cupcakery of Imagination and Love!

Thankfully, Bella Nora had the ability to shapeshift, and planned to shapeshift into one of the Dark Lord’s guards.  That way, they could spy on him and figure out his plot. Narutoo planned to use his plant powers in order to keep Bella Nora safe.

While Bella Nora was disguised as a guard. Things were going well and they were blending in with the guards, but then they sneezed and briefly revealed their bunny-dragon self!  The guards realized that Bella Nora was not one of them. They captured Bella Nora and then…