The Ad Astra Project...To the Stars Through Difficulty
If you read the paragraph above, the most difficult challenge in Waterville, Kansas where I chose to buy property in 1981 and in 2010 is that they are known to be "a snobbish town...a tough nut to crack". I am not sure how those roots got started but they are entrenched since my lifetime. Though in the founding years since 1868, there were plenty movers and shakers and long before women had been given the right to vote, they stood up to the men to get a library established. the used to be a thriving business and arts community, they have fallen victim to modern busy lives. When people don't feel valued, they just retreat and don't get involved.
Those that want to have things that make tourist come visit have some system for allowing some to play and others to feel very unwelcomed. It does not always have to do with if you were born here or who your parents are.
It has to do with special clubs and the circle of influence those people have. In order to stay in an elite club, you agree to keep the secrets, those of less then stellar character are stunted and you agree to not like who they do not like. It is a form of the Fountain of Youth...the mean girl club from Jr. High where no one grows up. Is there something in the water of Waterville that particularly effects women? Though the men that are controlled by those women are also affected. That will be for another researcher.
They also do not like people that they cannot trust to keep their secrets. Secrets that hurt people socially or financially or damage their property are bad secrets and it is the mission of Christian Good Samaritans to expose dirty secrets and let the Son shine in because, Jesus of Nazareth is the Son that welcomed everyone. People that go to church and say the Lord's Prayer and do good works but do it to feed their egos and prove their worth have missed some of the important points of Jesus's ministry.
So God sends unlikely characters on unlikely missions. This one requires a high level of resiliency and creativity and persistence. Just like the Shepherd goes after one lost sheep, this town was full of sheeps missing the Master 's voice. It is particularly urgent when those grown up sheep say that they are not interested in wellness yet are influencing little sheep.
Jesus was the teacher that taught all who were willing to listen and learn about healing and getting along and welcoming everyone. He gave us hope and the good secrets to decode in the Beatitudes. Proverbs 17:22 say, "A merry heart is like a good medicine and a brittle spirit dries the bones." and Jesus's teaching along with the Cat and the Hat Knows a Lot About That, "Show me the Honey" book and the Bee Movie inspired the Bee Attitudes as a simple fun way to help us make progress towards getting along.
Since I was a nurse that started formally studying about humor for the health of it in 1993, I was reminded about the biology of the immune system and the biology of what we believe. Jesus said to pray and believe that it had been given to us.
I had already prayed in 1978 that we would be able to have a health care system that returned our health to our birthright of being well and that I would be guided to do my part in making that happen. Jesus always asked people, "Do you want to be well?" If the answer is no, then it is not use trying to help them.
The research about the brain and our psychoneuroimmunology is about how our brain and immune system work together to protect and heal us or how we worry ourselves half sick. If the other half is not getting enough good food, sleep, good friends with healthy habits, and plenty of productive activities for our brains and bodies then we get all the way sick.
What is The Ad Astra Project?
The Ad Astra Pilot Project, "TAAPP", is a Kansas civic leadership project where we look "To the STARS through Difficulty".
Everyone that gets into TAAPP get to plug in their STAR power of Skills, Talents, Affirmative Action Attitudes, and Resources.
Time is money and volunteers plug their STAR power to get Community Service Projects done.
The WOMAN4HEALTH4ALL, the Wellness Oriented Mutual Aid Network for Health-Education-Active Living-Therapeutic Humor for Ageless Lifelong Learning is the supportive network for all the Wellness Weavers STARS.
The Waterville Wellness Weaver Community is the capstone project of forty-years of rural family-centered nursing, combined with being trained in a pilot project experiment that was offered to United Methodist Churches in Kansas as a joint venture with the Kansas Leadership Center, called "Transforming Communities for Health" in 2009. The photo above is from a KLC brochure.
Dr. Bergen, the sculptor of "Ad Astra", wove into my life as the itinerate art teacher for all the grade schools in Salina in my most spiritual year at age ten. His wife "saved my life" by being her natural welcoming and fun self as the librarian in our South Salina Junior High. My parents blindsighted us kids with a divorce when I was 13 and I just wanted to stop living. My Mother left our home and I needed a surrogate Mother. I chose LuAnn Bergen and she helped me laugh again and to want to read books that I also always selected because of the nice art to inspire my imagination.
When I was in college, I rewove into Dr. Bergen's world when I took a few art classes from him. Since I wore sandels and had such a sturdy build and character, he asked me to model for the feet on a sculpture he had been commissioned to make in Wichita, called "Pioneer Woman". in college and through trying years when I was a young rural mother juggling my many roles and he was juggling many roles, including, being the devoted husband of my favorite librarian, LuAnn, who suffered a brain hemorrhage as they prepared for bed one night when their children were grown and gone. To rehab from that level of brain trauma takes years and they made it through those tough years by being devoted to each other. They taught me a lot. Brain-body research has advanced since then.
He is also the "Wizard Elf" behind the Prairie Tooth Fairy's fabulous custom crown with the Kansas buffalo quarter on it and some of "the wind beneath her wings". LuAnn helped me move from "I hate to read" and "I hate my parents for getting a divorce", to I love to visit the library as a "Mighty, Mighty Colt" at Salina Jr High South to escape and be nurtured and appreciated for my wit and helped to improve my resiliency more fully, I was able to emerge a stronger young woman...a High School "Mustang". So in the "We Can" video, I finally feel that I have been set free to ride with the wind on the back of the powerfully fit white horse. Both Dick and LuAnn, in their 90's continue to be mentors and friends in my life.
Thus they were a large inspiration for The Ad Astra Pilot Project where love and caring adults in a community, church, and school shine enlightenment and mentor others by how they treat each other and the rest of the village.
My hypothesis is that ACEs, Adverse Childhood Experiences, can be counterbalanced with MEs. The Bergens and others in my village created and demonstrated MEs: Memorable Experiences, Meaningful Experiences, Mirthful Experiences, Mindful Experiences, Musical Experiences, Movement Experiences, Moving Experiences, "Magical Experiences" and "Miracle" Experiences (when Dick saved LuAnn's life when a brain hemorrhage threatened to take her life and his wife, I believe they used MEs to get through the difficult years of recovery from that form of TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury, that resulted.
Motivated by the many years of frustration at the of lack of access for rural and urban people to the community-based wellness culture to fully support the people that were trying to follow their doctor's orders and me trying to weave support for the CDC's original Healthy People Initiative that I read in 1978, the "Tooth Fairy" emerged in 1993. Not only does the Tooth Fairy listen, and gathers "pure-in-heart wish requests", she gives a way free HOPE and provides health edutainment to empower people to develop the 5-points of their radiant inner stars that keeps our body-mind-spirit healthy and well functioning.
Still her own marriage failed after 30-years...few men can be married to a Tooth Fairy...it is just too embarrassing.
In analyzing why I felt the Tooth Fairy needed to come out of the closet and why he wished that she wouldn't, "poor communication and conflict resolution skills" were always the answer. When someone refuses to discuss issues with you, it keeps the relationship from reaching its full and beautiful intimate potential. It is sad when the person that won't talk to you is your spouse...that spills over to affect the children and everyone's relationships. When someone won't brainstorm or collaborate, it leaves the other person having to decide the best course of action after talking to others and arriving at the best fit solution.
Thus, I had to continue my exploratory quest for answers and tap into all the experts I could.
Quality Early Childhood Learning programs engage preschoolers imaginations, spark their zest and quest for knowledge, and develops their social emotional intelligence that includes everyone on a team. Communities are a big part of School Readiness and the successes that lead to healthy grown and productive community citizens.
Theatre and improv involve the whole brain of any age that participates.
Parents as Teachers is an also an excellent program...a big problem is that government funding gets cut and as a result, so does access to such services for hard-working middle income parents that are paying taxes! Even young mothers that have been trained in nursing and have spouses, reported receiving benefits and assurance from another perspective giving them feedback in their home setting.
Parenting issues don't end when a child turns three and the Parents as Teacher program ends for those that qualified.
The importance and benefits of being surrounded by a caring community that helps support all ages from "the womb to the tomb" is the goal of healthy communities...and support for those that are dealing with grief and loss at any age.
A goal of the Wellness Weavers Health and Wellness Cooperative is to have parent support groups with access to best practices for all ages and phases of parenting.
A community-based health promotion pilot project plan that allows people to tap into their current "STAR power" of Skills, Talents, Attitudes, Resources to serve on project teams, builds and strengthens community connections as it helps promotes learning, health and innovation. Like a Quality Early Childhood Learning Center, a Clubhouse International home, a disaster response mission trip, or the military, we make sure that food and fun are also woven into our support system to counterbalance the stressors in our daily lives.
The educational events also have a privacy protected web-based way to remove barriers for those that have challenges to attending the live site. When challenges or circumstances make it is better to stay home, at the office, or to be able to tap into something when you are miles away, TAAP will allow participants to have access via wifi and their laptop or device with the free Cisco WebEx app installed on it.
What motivated The Ad Astra Project?
The experiences of the last six years of being a wholistically trained rural Community & Faith-based RN with certifications as a Preventative and Rehabilitative Exercise Specialist and Childcare Health Consultant and a longterm history of studying and providing health edutainment and moving into a small community, I witnessed:
1) Rumors and resentments toward someone with new and different ideas and abilities
2) Fear, prejudices, and judgment against people whose mistakes are visible to others, i.e. such as information published in a newspaper listing legal actions such as divorce, arrests, incarcerations, a police or ambulance vehicle in front of their house, inability to keep up with their bills, home, vehicle, health maintenance issues, etc that causes others to speculate and gossip
3) The mismatch between agencies and organizations with the common goals to promote the best health and wellness outcomes for people and gaps in the systems that model and mentor those services in any event offered to the public.
4) Agencies, organizations and individuals that commonly report that everyone is too busy and lack money, people, or time to collaborate.
5) The common statements, such as, "It doesn't matter, no one cares, I hate..., I am so mad, I am frustrated..., only certain people's opinions count, it depends on what your last name is, people can get any illegal drug they want in our little towns, they need help, I need a job, I need a place to live, I need money, their kids or clothes or life is a mess..."
6) The publishing of Governor Brownback's Mental Health Task Force in April 2014 calling for a coordinated effort to help all people reach their potential as productive members of their community and watching only a few piecemeal Diversion Grants offered instead of a statewide collaborative effort
7) Learning about the many options for helping people build community connections and stretch their cash using Time Banking.
8) Research and campaigns that have reached the Valley Heights School District to address Adverse Childhood Experiences, bullying, and wellness policies.
9) The inspiring WeCan video that Kansas will be a leader in Education will happen better and faster if the Community Service-Learning piece comes in on the white horse. ( I say that because I loved the white horse racing through the field in the video and because I was told that I was like a high spirited horse behind the race starting gate rearing to get out...and that is exactly how I have felt so many times that I am stuck behind a gate that will not open and let me run the race I was groomed and trained for. Certainly no man on a white horse has ever come to rescue me, like in the fairy tales...though I dreamed up it and wished for it, eventually I just say the old poem, "It it is meant to be, it is up to me." People are tired of me and I am tired...it is meant to be a TEAM so Together Everyone Achieves More!
With The Ad Astra Project, time is priceless when you get to serve yourself, your family, and your community by doing what you love and love being served with the best available arts and sciences of health promotion resources and experiences.
Who is eligible to enroll in TAAP?
1) People that want to improve their knowledge, skills, adjust their attitudes to be able to improve their present health and wellness. We will learn to how to replace saying "Yes, but", with "Yes, and" so we can increase the creative, innovation, resourcefullness skills, that actually have been proven to boost our immune systems and improve our moods, the function of groups, and our personal physical and mental health and function.
2) Adults that want to be known as someone that was a good human being, whether they were single, a parent, an employee or an entrepreneur, a lifetime learner and a community volunteer team member.
3) Families that agree to have at least one parent, guardian, or a list of approved safe adults to accompany their children to any of the Wellness Weavers TAAP classes or events.
4) Differently abled adults with guardians or caretakers
5) Anyone from any socioeconomic group, gender, or religious or non-religious background that agrees to our core values as outlined in the Bee Attitudes and willing to enroll in the year long pilot project.
How is The Ad Astra Project funded?
Wellness Weavers and several frugal philanthropists have been involved making the arts and sciences of health promotion available via the Wellness Weavers website with a living indoor-outdoor history laboratory created by the purchase and stabilization of historic buildings in Waterville. We received financial support to cover the cost of a month by month subscription to the Cisco WebEx Event platform and conducted numerous experiments in 2016, including offering "Saturday School" from Waterville.
Though we continue to have minimal interest from the Waterville community itself, we did have one brave and smart community-minded Girl Scout willing to run the experiment to verify that we could indeed connect to empower a USD#498 student to join a class and to also be able to become a presenter from their iPad. That proves that any location in Waterville, KS that has access to Wi-Fi can become a classroom and people can connect from their homes, their offices, the school attendance centers, the Community Center, the Public Library, the Weaver Hotel, the Kansas Street Settlement House, the old Merchant Bank-School District- Flower Shop- current Gallery House & Laundry...that will be renamed "The Lighthouse TimeBank" when The Ad Astra Project launches from Waterville on January 6, 2017. Watch the Calendar of Events for how to register for the classes.
A grant request is being formulated to USD #498 requesting Willson Fund monies to:
Support The Ad Astra Project for at least one year-long pilot project that allows participants to sign up for Community Service-Learning teams that fit their initially assessed STAR power of Skills, Talents, Attitudes, Resources. This allows for a way for citizens to get involved with more options that fit their time schedules and makes use of their strengths while also increasing their opportunities to explore their interests, meet new people, and learn new things.
TAAP will only enroll participants that agree to fill out the STAR Assessment and Quality of Life Surveys and be involved in the core educational training events during the one year pilot project. Thus, this project could be compared to the public health statistics that are already collected via number of calls made to Suicide & Crisis hotlines, and statistics that report crimes, incarcerations, court cases, ER visits, public assistance enrollees, & health insurance claims.
Cover the cost of the HIPAA Compliant Cisco WebEx Training web-based platform, that will open during school hours as one way that students can interact with Wellness Weavers members that are on the approved list to appropriately interact with their grade level. It is a way that the student and their parents, the teachers, counselors, and medical team and other siblings can all get up to speed with what the students are learning in their SECD (Social Emotional Character Development) curriculums.
Since the best way to learn something is to teach it, students in conjunction with their teachers will be encouraged to teach the lessons to the community via the Cisco WebEx system.
The current Wellness Weavers Enterprise Account will be hosting Mediation "test flights" so that attorneys and their clients can have a chance to have the full truth come out and save money and time in the court system.
The Waterville adult or homeschooled public will have the opportunity to study SECD lessons voluntarily if they have been accused of bullying and then proceed to having a private Mediation Session to avoid going to trial. If they refuse, the offended party will be able to give their recorded disposition and do role playing for the accused parts and that recorded file will be sent to their lawyer with a copy for the court if something happens to the defender's copy. This can finally support the offended people that have been trying to get the situation straightened out and been hung up on, have their written communications unreturned, or been bullied with statements such as, "oh, yeah, then just sue me!"
The founder and coordinator of the all the Wellness Weavers pilot projects is Helen Stucky Weaver, a Certified Humor Professional living in and serving from the Wellness Weavers home base campus in Waterville, Kansas. Her support for making health and wellness available and accessible for as many people as possible began in 1978 and wove through all the ways that she served as a family-centered nurse and family member in the Body of Christ.
Now her retirement from Registered Nursing lets her refer people to the next leaders as she continues to explore and serve where ever she is under the "Good Samaritan Law" and as she continues to look "To the Stars Through Difficulty".
TAAP is for those individuals, family, businesses and community organizations that want to offer emotional and social support for their employees and volunteers and families to maintain or become the best versions of themselves. For a business or organization to sign up in up in solidarity with the Wellness Weavers mission to unleash and plug in everyone's STARS to be recharged for maximal function, a simple MOA, Memorandum of Agreement, with Wellness Weavers will be required.
Foundations of Lifelong Learning
Building Adult Capacities
Early Childhood Mental Health
University of Michigan
Value of Time
Time is money, friendship, creativity, and healthy fun is priceless!
The Prairie Tooth Fairy flew in to thank Dr. Richard Bergen for the custom crown he made and gifted and left for her to pick up from "Amelia" at the Kansas State Alumni Foundation...all with such artful fun!
Behind the pair is a green small version of "Ad Astra", the Native American aiming his arrow at the North Star, in Salina, Kansas at the Bergen Studio. It is a smaller version of the commissioned sculpture that lives atop the Kansas Capitol Dome in Topeka.