Friday, March 11, 2011

Raina the Mermaid

Exploring my creative side I found a way to bring to life a character and a persona for educational purposes that I feel really breaks the mold. Through the help of other artistic people I created Raina: The Halifax Mermaid. (click link to be re-directed to official facebook page)

Raina is a 'real' mermaid who swims in a tail and loves to read. As Raina I have compiled teacher resources and created my own in the form of Reading with Raina youtube video series. I use my Raina facebook, twitter, blog, and website as a means of inspiring young people everywhere and providing teachers and parents with important resources on sustainability and arts infusion and curriculum links.

Above: "Raina" Gives a presentation on literacy links to a MSVU education classroom

I follow a self-created ever evolving framework for using Raina. I call it "The Three I's" and they are forever changing and adapting.

The three I's often refer to within the scope of what I do as a mermaid. I developed "The Three I's" to help keep me goal oriented, educational, and allow for personal growth. The three I's also help me determine what projects to take on.

Inspiration- I do this mermaid thing to inspire others to follow their dreams no matter how strange. I want to inspire people to overcome illness and abuse. e.g Sharing my story of how I got to this point, how Raina gives me strength, and talking about achieving dreams and setting realistic goals to do so.

Above: A young girl swims with Raina

Information and Inquiry- I want to encourage people to gather information about learning, the planet, and life and I want them to ask questions. e.g education, investigation, observation, experience, providing resources etc.

Above: Raina meets pre-schoolers and discusses the ocean

Imagination- I want to foster creativity and arts infusion as a way to foster imagination in the classroom and the individual. e.g mermaid encounters, working with young children, music, arts infusion, catering to multiple intelligences (Gardner's Theory)

Above: Raina swimming underwater

So far following the Three I's has helped me offer the following:

Speaker roles- I am able to offer my services as a public speaker on a variety of topics both professionally through my education and also informally on a personal level from experience and growth. This could be anything like speaking on my experience within a certain realm of child development, teaching role, or approach to personal growth and what I do with Raina and more.

Mermaid Encounters- These focus primarily on imagination though often through the interest of the children involved contain an element of inquiry. I focus on having fun with kids by giving them the opportunity to meet a real mermaid and or swim with one. Play is such a valuable educational tool that can be used in such significant ways. By playing with kids or allowing kids and adults to pose for photos with me I am able to bring up topics and engage in thoughtful discussion around areas like the environment. Mermaid encounters can also be simple and just fun with no alternative motive other than to swim with kids in a pool.

Resources- I have created and will continue to create resources for kids, parents, and teachers to use as educational tools and to share interesting ideas and network information. My facebook is complete with a user friendly forum in which not only am I contributing but users can contribute as well.

Instructor- I have experience and am capable of leading activities, circle time, and lessons for pre-school and school aged children with a lot of experience with exceptionalities. This can range from doing a circle activity as the mermaid for preschoolers to video taping specific lessons or delivering them in person.

Mindfulness- I feel very strongly about the topic of self regulation in children and within many of these activities I offer I enjoy being able to help children with their own resiliance and emotions. I typically do this through the use of worry stones (mermaid stones). I also enjoy bringing awareness in all of these areas as well as online in my activities and videos to various ecology issues.

Entertainer- Sometimes it's just important to have uncompromising fun and I enjoy occasionally performing in various ways. I also do some modeling work as the mermaid and am interested in certain promotional projects.

Combinations- some events require combinations of all of these areas.

The best way to understand Raina and the potential she has is simply to watch her:

As quoted from my website:
I have always been inspired by mermaids; and seeing other young women use a mermaid identity as a way to educate and bring joy to others I knew I had to try too! I've always been interested in marine life and I plan to use "Raina" and this website as a way to not only entertain but to educate people about ocean related ecology issues on a local scale for my city (Halifax, NS, Canada) but on an international scale too. I also believe in the power of literacy so I want to use Raina as a way of encouraging children and adults to read!

Mermaids are inspiring mythical creatures. They've been found in all art forms in all areas of the world and they never stop captivating children and adults alike. I recognize that there is a value in catering to a child's imagination. A mermaid can inspire a child to read, to write, to create, to want to learn, to self regulate their emotions, and much more!

Becoming a mermaid was also a dream of mine, though one I didn't voice very often and would get me funny looks when I did. But I achieved my dream despite having a learning disability, health problems, and being the clumsiest person on earth! I want children to know they can achieve their dreams even when there are obstacles they have no control over.

At the time of writing this I am a pre-service teacher. I want to use Raina as a creative way to provide teaching resources, inspiration, and share knowledge. I am hopeful to get involved with many more public appearance in the future to encourage positive traits in young people as well as educating and entertaining.

In April 2011 I was interviewed by author Carolyn Turgeon of the book "Mermaid" you can read the interview here: