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For These Kids, One Plus One Equals Joy

These kids are grinning because they’ve just done one of the oldest known bonding exercises: make a mess together.

It was a creative mess, designed to build interaction between special needs kids and those in mainstream schools. “One + One”, the program behind the fun, brings together children ages 8 – 11 from each group for play with a purpose: to bridge the gap between them.

The mission of the [sameness] project is to dissolve perceived divisions and replace them with mutual sharing—something kids may do better than adults.

Kids are pretty awesome in their ability not to place too much emphasis on differences, and once they start playing, everyone is on equal terms,” says the project’s co-founder Jonny Kennaugh.

At the close of their first pilot session on January 16, each child was given a flowering plant to pot, name, and then give to their partner, “who will care for it as a representation of  the other,” Jonny explains.

The result? Shared joy. “They all sat there together around these pretty little plants, running the dirt through their hands and grinning at each other.”

At their next session, mixed groups will make “Recycled Superheroes”, using salvaged materials to create superheroes that represent them. Next month, an exhibition showcasing their work will let teachers, friends and family in on their collaborations.

For more info – One + One’s web page


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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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