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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.