The Reflection Project
Heartisan Foundation's 'Reflection Project' is a 5-day creative expression experience that engages students through reflective writing, portrait-drawing, mask-making, interactive dialogue, trust-building exercises, and performance. Our workshop-style education classes address isolation and depression in teens, using writing and art as prevention. The Reflection Project is a safe haven for self-exploration, designed to help youth connect, build resilient communities, and give voice to the younger generation.
The Reflection Project was created in direct response to the current epidemic of school shootings and teen suicide in the United States. We feel called to action to provide creative, collaborative environments for young people to explore and celebrate the unique beauty held within each one of us. Our longterm vision is to develop new models of empathy, dignity, and inclusivity that become normalized in our society. By bringing a cross-section of young people together for this purpose, we will be collectively empowering the next generation of future leaders with the self-confidence, strength of heart, and clarity of mind and that they will need to see them through.
Each day will consist of a short reflective journaling session on a particular topic, followed by a creative arts and crafts session that supports each student’s narrative.
Day 1: Mask Making - How other people see you
Day 2: Mask Making - How you see yourself
Day 3: Portrait Drawing - Who you really are
Day 4: Rehearsals - Preparing for Performance
Day 5: Showcase - Video Performance and Class Pledge
Examples of Student Reflections (Grade 9)
When I Look in the Mirror...
When I look in the mirror, I see a light-skinned, sleep-deprived Mexican that fakes her happiness. I see someone who is scared to talk about her feelings because she gets told everything she does is wrong.
When I look in the mirror, I am reminded of my failures and quirks. I see someone who doesn’t like writing about this stuff because I have to see creatures crawling back out of the deep dark pit I put them in.
When I look in the mirror, I see someone who is trying to figure his life. Someone who doesn’t want to be poor and alone. He dreams too much. He has problems with his brain that bring him bad luck. Nobody understands him and he wonders if it’s because of his emotions.
When I look in the mirror, I see a beautiful boy in a human-made mirror, in a human-made building, in a race of cruel humans looking for the worst in each other.
When I look in the mirror, I see someone who is self-conscious, lost in the decisions of life.
When I look in the mirror, I see a girl who has been through a lot.
When I look in the mirror, I see a sad, depressed girl that’s tired of putting on a mask for people because she’s afraid of what they’ll think of her.
When I look in the mirror, I see one million puzzle pieces strewn around. I see a broken plate, a person split into segments.
When I look in the mirror, I see the joys and disappointments of my parents. I see my highs, my lows, my ups and my downs.
When I look in the mirror, I see a young, smart, kind person.
When I look in the mirror, I see a tired black and white kid that has an amazing dog who is also black and white.
When I look in the mirror, I see a human with a complicated past and in a lot of self-pity.
When I look in the mirror, I see a monster.
When I look in the mirror, I see a short, blond-haired blue-eyed kid who wants to do the right thing but doesn’t know how.
When I look in the mirror, I see a boy whose best isn’t good enough.
When I look in the mirror, I see a girl washed up on the beach like a piece of seaweed, left alone to fend for herself.
When I look in the mirror, I see a girl who tries to cover up the fears and hurt that she has to deal with every day.
Examples of Student Reflections (Grade 10-12)
When I Look in the Mirror...
When I look in the mirror, I see that I hide myself so my parents don’t have a heart attack. I have to wear a mask that makes it look like I’m perfect and doing everything they want. With my peers, it’s different, because there is no mask.
When I look in the mirror, I see a beautiful, messy contradiction. I see a trembling, scared little girl, empty and torn inside. I also see a smart, kind soul who yearns to share an abundance of love with every living being on this planet.
When I look in the mirror, I see a crafty, dirty, kinda dumb druggie ‘hood rat.’
When I look in the mirror, I see everything I’m learning to love: The freckles, the color of my eyes, the scars, blemishes and my uneven smile. Instead of hating myself, I should love what makes me different; conformity is so overrated. Maybe someday I’ll believe that. Self-love is an interesting journey.
When I look in the mirror, I see a kid who dreams big, who wants positivity to be the new normal.
When I look in the mirror, I see a little girl, a whore, a sunflower. I have low self-esteem, so I see a lot when I look in the mirror.
When I look in the mirror, I see a girl who has mastered the art of the fake smile.
When I look in the mirror, I see a girl who loves to move to the music of life and wants to join in on the song, but she can’t breathe.
When I look in the mirror, I see a weak, broken stranger. A girl covered in scars, beaten and tired.
When I look in the mirror, I see a fat kid.
When I look in the mirror, I see myself as a strong woman that doesn’t need help; So, hopefully I come off like that.
When I look in the mirror, I see white, pale skin, (not white enough) real hair, (not real enough) real lips, (still not real enough) long lashes, (not long enough) red nail polish, (not red enough). I see a heavy past and an uncertain future. When I look in the mirror, I see a tired clay manikin shaped by old battles half won.
When I look in the mirror, I see some weird looking funny kid from Ashland who would rather be doing something outside.
When I look in the mirror, I see a depressed, anxious and uncomfortable girl who screams for help but is silenced by smiles.
When I look in the mirror, I see a hurt kid that doesn’t care.
When I look in the mirror, I see a shelf full of creativity. Someday that shell will crack open and the real me will flow out like a waterfall.
When I look in the mirror, I see a person who is tired. Tired of trying so hard and not succeeding. Tired of being called names. Tired of being tired.
When I look in the mirror, I see someone with bloody knuckles trying to take his anger out on a tree.
When I look in the mirror, I see a smart, intellectual person. A beautiful person who reaches outside society’s boxes. A human being who has learned not to allow the approval of others to get in the way of her happiness.
When I look in the mirror, I see that my life is pretty plain. I sleep, then eat alone, then zone out on the screen alone… Alone. I talked to my family for the first time today and said, “good night.” Then I was alone again. Nothing changes.
When I look in the mirror, I see a boy whose tired of a world full of trivial arguments that change nothing.
When I look in the mirror, I see someone who’s tired of other people’s bullshit and doesn’t give a fuck anymore.
When I look in the mirror, I see a black queen, ready to fight off racist, prejudiced people.
When I look in the mirror, I see a girl who’s been call lots of discriminating and degrading names. A girl who’s been emotionally, verbally, and mentally abused.
When I look in the mirror, I see someone who’s lucky. I could have been born a poor pilgrim in the 17th century, but someone decided to put me here, now. For the infinite number of organisms on this planet, I was chosen to be me. For a reason, I have yet to fully understand.
When I look in the mirror, I see a loving, nervous soul, afraid to face the day.
When I look in the mirror, I see a driven perfectionist who will never be good enough.
When I look in the mirror, I see a unique person who is sick of the same damn people who can’t seem to understand him. He can hide his pain, silence it, tuck it away, but it’s still down there. He’s not meant for this world.
Program Testimonial from a Partnering Teacher
The Mask-Making workshop allowed our students to have the courage to reflect on their inner truths. The ability to accept themselves and share their collective truths with the world was empowering and supported their academic growth.
The struggles my students have experienced shape them and are a part of their personal medicine. Their hardships have the potential to become gifts and build resilience. We need more opportunities like the Reflection Project in educational settings where students have opportunities to engage with each other with open hearts and minds.
It is this deeper connection that binds us through meaningful relationships, and builds not only a stronger community but a collective consciousness that will have a ripple effect of change.
Heartisan Foundation has been with us for the past two years and we welcome them back with open arms.
~ Jennifer Wahpepah, Teacher, Ashland High School
Student Responses to "High School Reflections 2019" Video Screening
AHS Class Pledges 2019
I pledge to no one because our country has been corrupt for centuries.
I pledge to be more loving, compassionate and respectful to the earth, animals, plants, humans, and myself. I pledge to shine as much light into the world as possible.
I pledge to bring compassion and love into this class, to strive to understand everyone’s unique perspective, and to always grow and learn more together.
I pledge to be open to all ideas and make sure everyone has a chance to speak.
I pledge allegiance to the idea of bettering myself and the place I live in. To strive for decency. To be a good example for those who come after me and not to degrade or disrespect those around me.
I pledge to respect and accept those around me for who they are and to work together as a team. To set aside our differences in order to create a better world. To support and protect those who need it most, and to respect nature, for she is our mother and without her we are nothing.
I pledge to keep the sun shining. To keep the grass green and the water clear. I may only be 12 years old, but I pledge to go to the protests and the riots. I will be a wave that washes the world clean.
I pledge to help create an open and honest community. We are all equal and deserving to be here, and everyone should be able to feel comfortable and welcome.
I pledge allegiance to myself, and to people who stay true to me.
I pledge allegiance to Mother Nature. To clean water and green leaves. I pledge allegiance to the animals, oppressed people and cultures and to the air we all breathe. To supporting kindness and love for all those around us. To building each other up not knocking anyone down, to equality and justice without violence.
I pledge to help everyone grow and survive and help our world. I will try to be good and loving to everyone and everything.