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Laura Amtower and Michelle Ha Co-Create "Strive to Thrive"

During the 20 – 21 academic year and into the summer, Stamps alum Laura Amtower (MFA​15), Direc­tor of Edu­ca­tion at Com­mu­nity Action Net­work (CAN), collaborated with Stamps stu­dent Michelle Ha (BFA​22) to create CAN’s Strive to Thrive pro­gram for local youth.

A yearlong wellness curriculum for students in grades K‑5, Strive to Thrive launched in June 2021 and was taught to over 200 students at all six of CAN’s neighborhood-based community centers throughout Washtenaw County.

This past year has been incredibly traumatic and we are working hard to help in the healing process — both within ourselves and in our communities,” Amtower said.

“Just having the space to talk about the pandemic with other students and adults who are creating a safe space is absolutely transformative and crucial.”

The program leverages peer leadership and art-centered activities to bring focus to conversations around personal identities and celebrations, intersectional body positivity, stress management, and DEI

We wanted to teach students that it’s okay to take time for yourself,” Ha said.

Also, my Stamps classes have taught me how to help students take ownership of their own learning. Knowing when to step back and allowing kids to just make on their own is something I learned from a lot of my professors.”

The Strive to Thrive Program will continue to evolve with a forthcoming family-friendly curriculum for kids to complete with loved ones at home.