The "Free to Be" Project

In the Summer of 2018 we worked with a group of children who had been affected by the 2017 California Wildfires. Many of these children had lost their homes and all their toys, or been repeatedly evacuated not knowing if they would ever be able to return home again. The effects of this toxic stress was causing problems for them and their families and many were experiencing PTSD.

Sunflower Bridge staff created a three day workshop for these children and their parents where we brought in leading experts in areas that could teach the children how to develop their “Superhero Mindset”

A Superhero Mindset means that you have exceptional emotional intelligence. You are aware of and in control of your own emotional world. They learned self awareness and emotional regulation from Psychologists, NLP experts, Mindfulness and Meditation experts, Therapy Animals, Fire Fighters, Yoga teachers, Personal Trainers and more! They learned that a Superhero has a strong mind, a strong body and a strong social network. We helped them learn strategies for using their thoughts to develop emotional intelligence, growth mindset, resilience and mindfulness. They learned how physical fitness and exercise can benefit your brain and emotions as well as your body. And they learned the importance of the people in their lives in three areas, asking for help and support from those around them, Firefighters taught them the value of trust and teamwork when facing challenges with peers. Finally they learned, by making gift bags and cards for hospitalized children, that being of service to others, even when you’re struggling yourself, feels really good and can be a valuable part of your personal healing.

Having a superhero mindset is an advantage for any child, not just one who has lived through trauma. Studies have shown it not only improves your happiness, but your chances of success. 21st Century employers more and more are looking for employees with high emotional intelligence, creativity, problem solving, collaboration skills and innovation. A Superhero Mindset doesn’t just help these children recover from the trauma they experienced, but gives them an advantage in their careers, their personal relationships and their overall happiness and wellbeing.

The power of learning something increases exponentially by teaching it to others. So we presented the children with an unfinished storybook featuring Sunny the Sunflower Seed who had lived through a really bad storm and was having trouble recovering emotionally from the horrific experience. Working with a team of teachers, and a local illustrator the children designed their own characters to be Sunny’s friends. Then they told us how the story should end, with Sunny learning how to strengthen The Superhero Mindset within him from his new, very clever and helpful friends.

The impact of these workshops were profound. Parents who attended with their children reported behavior changes, increased bravery and emotional control, and a shift towards a more mindful and emotionally aware way of being.

But we’re not done yet! We want to reach more children and help them face the challenges in their lives with the same confidence and strength! We are taking the children’s story and turning it into a storybook for children to learn about the Superhero Mindset too. In order to make these lessons actionable and accessible to every parent and child, we are launching the book as a Superhero Mindset development program. When you buy a copy of the story, we include a parent guide developed by the experts and parents we worked with. It teaches parents the theory behind the program and how to implement these lessons into their home life. There is also a PDF activity guide so parents and their children can learn through fun, simple games, activities and craft projects. In addition, each program comes with access to a guided meditation based in mindfulness and visualization that teaches children how to create and utilize a safe space in their mind and calm themselves to allow them to act powerfully.

The book itself has been illustrated by local artist, Cody Creighton. His whimsical and sweet characters are lovable and brighten this already powerful story. The background art in the book is done by local children from areas affected by the fire and features images of their favorite things about their hometown.

The books are currently available for pre-sale and will be published, printed and released in December 2018.

If you want to be a part of this beautiful project, donate today to help us fund the publishing and printing of the book Donate

Want your child to develop a superhero mindset? Pre-order your copy of the book today!