As my love of books has inspired my entire research, I thought I would use my favourite series of children's books to inspire this ‘end of an adventure’ blog post…
—Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
For those of you who don’t know, in Harry Potter some of the main characters use a special map (The Marauder's Map) to help with their adventures and at the end of an adventure they tap the map and say ‘Mischief Managed’. Well, I have now come to the end of my grand adventure and it is time for me to tap the map. I'm not sure if 'mischief' is the best word to describe what I have managed to achieve over the last three months, but I am also not sure if there are many words that could do the experience justice.
When I set off on September 13th, I could not have imagined just how fantastic this experience would be. I have visited 12 inspiring organisations across the U.S. and Canada, all of which have taught me so much about how reading and writing can be used to support young people’s mental health.
They have also taught me that the people who work in this field happen to be some of the most welcoming and friendly people in the world. I have been greeted with open arms at every destination I have visited.
Not only have I left with a head and notebook full of fascinating information, but I also left with an extra bag to fit in all the books and materials I was given at each location I visited. I was also given lots of online resources and more suggestions of further reading, which I can’t wait to get tucked into!
My lovely 16 month old niece greeted me at the airport and you can see my bag full of new books and materials on my back.
"I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind."
— Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
In Harry Potter, the characters use a pensieve to store their memories. The pensieve, is a stone basin and here is Albus Dumbledore describing his use of it:
‘One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one's mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one's leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form."
There are so many interesting thoughts running around my head right now, that I could really use a pensieve. I think this would really help me organise my ideas and get started on my report for The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. The report will detail all the findings from my trip and make recommendations for how this work could be used in the UK.
Unfortunately, I am finding it very difficult to get my hands on a pensieve, so I am going to have to think of my own ways get organised and get started on my report. One practical idea for giving myself inspiration came from my friend's brother while I was staying in Edmonton: Joey is studying design and had been tasked with creating a ‘Thinktuary’, which is a place designed to inspire someone in their endeavours. It should be filled with individualised items and decorations that will inspire the user to create their best work.
I fell in love with this idea as soon as I heard it, so once I got home, I immediately decided to create myself a ‘thinktuary’. Therefore, I have unpacked and surrounded my desk with all the books I have been given and I am planning to get some photo's printed soon. So if anyone can't find me over the next few weeks, if I'm not at work then I'll most probably be in the 'Thinktuary' writing my report. I can't wait till I'm in a position to share this with you!
“You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”
― Ginny Weasley in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
After I finish my report, I have a lot of ideas about how I can best use my research to benefit as many young people as possible in the UK. I am starting to plan my next steps for myself and for The Story Project and I am feeling pretty confident about their success because recently I received a message from a fortune cookie… The message was ‘Your present plans will be successful’. Needless to say, this message is going to go up in the 'Thinktuary' and I am feeling excited about putting this into action.
“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”
– Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.
For now, all I have to say is a massive THANK YOU to all of the fantastic organisations and individuals that have hosted me during my research project. In Harry Potter, the main characters become friends through knocking out a mountain troll together and although my research did not involve anything quite that dangerous, the experience has been similarly bonding. I will always be a huge advocate of all 12 organisations I have visited after experiencing their inspirational work. The organisations and individuals are: The Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, Youth Communication, The Moth Education Program, StoryCorpsU, Dr. Dale Elizabeth Pehrsson, RULER, Self-Authoring/ iVie, Changing Lives Through Literature, Dr. James Pennebaker, The Freedom Writer's Foundation, Center for the Collaborative Classroom and Pongo Teen Writing.
I look forward to staying in touch and working together with these organisations to continue supporting young people emotionally and academically through reading and writing.
I also want to say a massive THANK YOU to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and the Mental Health Foundation for making all of this possible. It really is such a privilege to have received this grant and I will be recommending that anyone in the UK with a research idea should apply.
"What on earth is more important than this memory, Harry?"
— Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Now that the mischief is truly managed, I am very sad that it is over but also very grateful for the wonderful memories. Due to the sensitive work of many of the programmes I visited, it was not always possible to take a lot of pictures of the work in progress, but I did take many pictures of the beautiful locations I visited across Canada and the U.S. Therefore, I thought I would finish this blog post by sharing some pictures of these wonderful locations...
Blue Skies and a view of Brooklyn Bridge
Pretty Stained Glass Window's at Misericordia University in Pennsylvania
Books as far as the eye can see at Yale University
Mist over Niagara Falls
Fall colours in Massachusetts
Colourful Boots in Austin, Texas
Sunset in LA
View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Tiburon
Sun over Seattle