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WMF Follow Up - Lauren Maynard

What is your name? Lauren Maynard

What do you do? I work with children, currently I am interning, but I am learning how to do clinical and mental health in a social work capacity. I generally only have kid clients, but that might change. I prefer working with kids, adults are hard. With adults you have to have this guise of being serious and an adult, you can't be silly. But kids, kids want you to be silly, they want to play, they want to learn. Oh, and adults are judgey and I just want a job that I can play at.

Do you consider yourself a maker? No. I don't make stuff. I don't fit the definition at all. I work with kids, I do therapy. When I work with them it is primarily talking. I am going to try and add in some hands on stuff while we are talking. Because it is really terrible to sit there while you are trying to talk to someone that you are terrified of talking to and not have something to fidget with.

So you find creating and working on stuff helps you overcome some communication barriers? Kind of. It helps create a relationship. It is more that your focus isn't just on your words, it is a distraction. I want things for kids to do and things for kids to play with. Because kids feel more inclined to talk. It is easier for them to be less focused on the trauma or the negative emotions. It is easier to talk while you are doing something productive or engaging. Something that isn't very complex.

Was this your first maker faire? Yes. I did a little event before making kites, but this is my first faire.

So what is something that caught your attention? How many people wanted to build a kite (laugh) it was unreal.

Describe the maker faire We made a bunch of kites, is the most descriptive way I can say what we did. It was cool, it was cool when the kids would run off with their little kite. It was just neat to see kids that might never had a kite or had access to a kite with one. Just running around with giant smiles.

Folks often say that they feel inspired after being at a maker faire, do you? I do. I don't know, but I am trying to think about how I interact with my clients. I am going to be in a tiny little room, and how I could incorporate all of that somehow because it is so inexpensive and easy. It is a just another tool that can be for fun, or others. It isn't stressful.

A handful of times we had to tell the parents at our booth to 'back up', why do you think it is important for adults to let children do this on their own? Therapy doesn't work. If someone walks in and is depressed and you say 'just be happy', that doesn't work. They need to come to that realization on their own, then they can work with it. Kids are the same way. They have to learn and try, and fail, and succeed, because if they don't they wont grow up and be successful. If people are always doing things for you, then you wont learn how to do it. That is kind of how therapy is as well. If you don't figure out how to do it on your own, you will always be relying on someone else to do it for you.

You want them to be involved and connected to building it. You want them to own it. It is their kite.

What is something that is important when you are trying to engage with someone with an idea or activity you have? Be as hands off as possible. Give the instruction, and see how much they can do without us doing it for them. But be present for when they ask for help. Like with the kites, they might say 'I don't know how to tie a knot' I would say "ok, i am going to tie this one and you watch so you can try to tie the other". (laugh) Or, when we were really busy I would just say 'you are going to tie this' and walk away and most of them would just do it or try, or they would ask some of the adults to help them. Which is more valuable then me just teaching. Because they are then trying to figure it out on their own, or using another skill which is reaching out and asking an adult for help when they need it.

You work with children of varying skill sets, do you think this is something you could use in your practice? Yes, I want to. It is hard in a clinical setting because we can't get outside, I have been thinking a lot about that. How the clinical setting is a sterile environment. I really do prefer the community based activities, it is a bit more holistic, and it just makes more sense. They could still make the kite inside, and it could be a relationship builder.

You were only recently introduced to kite flying, yet you willingly flew out to New York to help at the workshop, why? I don't know, I can't say no to things that have to do with kids. I think it is super important. Especially free stuff. I think it would have taken away from the experience if we were charging for the kites. I think maybe a quarter of the people would have paid for it, but it was definitely more affluent people that were there.

You learned how to build the kite a few minutes before the faire started, and then you went on for two days to teach it, how difficult was it to grasp and teach? Once I figured out how to tie the knot it was pretty easy. I would suggest if you are sending this out to teachers maybe a youtube link on how to do it, because written instructions don't work for me.

What is something you would suggest to someone wanting to do this workshop? A visual prompt that shows 'this is how you do it' that you could point to for those that want to self build without me instructing them. More people, more tables, maybe giving it to people as a kit. As in, 'here are all the pieces you need to make this kite'. Oh, and a line that helps people get ready. Some of that is the New Yorker mentality.

Anything else?

I would like to know what low income or 'other options' that the Maker Faire provides, because entry could be expensive. That is a huge barrier, and that is messed up, that keeps people away that should be coming.

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