A Breath of Fresh Air

On the first day of November, AIR was able to gather a small group of teens for an in person, socially distanced, illustrative journaling workshop! The workshop was called Fresh AIR, and it really was a breath of fresh air as we were able to spend time outdoors on the lovely lawn at Friends Forever International in Durham, NH.

Facilitated by AIR’s own Becca Romanoski and Cara Cabral, teens were able to blend fact and fiction, as well as creative writing and drawing, to visually express their internal worlds. 

As teens arrive, AIR staff takes and records their temperatures to make sure no one has a fever. There is conversation about Halloween and costumes, and there are quite a number of Nightmare Before Christmas face masks! 

AIR staff directs participants to the circle where bags of supplies and snacks are laid out six feet apart. The bags contain all sorts of supplies that the teens are able to keep for themselves including: a name tag, pens, different kinds of paper, and a drawing board. 

Once everyone arrives, staff and participants share their name, pronouns, location/school, age, an animal that describes how they are feeling, and an animal that describes how they would like to be feeling. 

Following check-in, Cara leads an icebreaker activity that warms everyone up for the workshop. The game played at this session is called “Detective.” For this game, someone volunteers to be the Detective and leaves the circle. Once they are out of earshot, the rest of the group chooses a person to be the leader, and everyone must secretly follow their movements. Then the Detective is called back and they have three chances to guess the leader. 

After the game everyone is feeling a little bit cold, so we move to the large office space inside of the building where chairs are set up in a circle six feet apart from each other. Becca provides an overview of illustrative journaling and asks the group if anyone keeps a journal and what the benefits of journaling are.

Becca and Cara create an example of drawing realistically and writing imaginatively. Cara quickly sketches a gourd and provides tips for drawing techniques as she goes such as: “never trust your first line.” Next, Becca has everyone go around the circle and share a word that describes what it would be like to live inside of the gourd. As people share, she writes the suggestions around the gourd on the paper to create our first collaborative piece.

Next, it’s time to journal! Teens go outside to find natural objects like pinecones and leaves as inspiration for their art. Everyone takes fifteen minutes to write realistically and draw creatively, then do the reverse by drawing realistically and writing creatively for another fifteen minutes.

The final fifteen minutes are free choice! Participants can choose to continue working on previous work from the day, or they can do another combination (i.e. factual/realistic writing and drawing or fictional/imaginative writing and drawing). 

After reconvening inside, each person shows the group what they worked on. To end the session in traditional AIR fashion, we each put a socially distant hand towards the interior of the circle and cheer a word relevant to the workshop. Today’s word is: “gourd!”

Check out some of the incredible art our teens made:



Want to stay informed about upcoming workshops? Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook