Volunteer Spotlight: Marietta McPike

Marietta McPike has been teaching piano at Family Matters for 20 years. In that time, she has worked with approximately 75 young people who participate in Youth Development programming. She began playing piano herself at the age of nine. She fondly remembers her own teacher, and how he would later become a friend. An important figure in her life, he taught her piano, harmony, and theory.

In addition to teaching piano, Marietta worked at IBM for 35 years. Still, she always found time for music. The skills that learning piano develops translate across several applications. It is a discipline where one must use the eyes, ears, brain, and muscles in order to progress. It requires the mastery of multiple senses as well as the mind. When asked how it feels, from her perspective as a teacher, when a young piano player demonstrates improvement on a song, she affirms, “The very best it when someone conquers a persistent problem… and suddenly can do it!”

She reflects, too, on how the youth have influenced her and on how they have shaped her thinking on very different perspectives as to expectations. She notes that one can be influenced by one’s surroundings, either to grow or to be stifled. Marietta remarks, “I like to challenge their ideas of what is possible and try to encourage them to reach higher, overcoming limitations.”

Learning piano is one way that youth, families, and Family Matters are contributing to building an equitable society in the North of Howard neighborhood. As Marietta says, “I think exposing the students to successful classical musicians of color, of different nationalities, of different ethnic backgrounds shows them that anyone….absolutely anyone…..can learn an instrument and be a star.  I adore showing them Winton Marsalis….Kathleen Battle…because it proves that they too can accomplish their goals.”

Family Matters is deeply grateful for all that Marietta shares with our community—time, talent, and a tenacious belief in Family Matters’ youth. There are currently five Family Matters youth piano players, and we are always seeking portable pianos for them to take home to practice, music books, and accessories to supplement their learning. Or you might consider sharing your own time and talent in another way!


Project RISE 2018

Two summers ago, Family Matters’ Boys to Men program launched an employment initiative, Project RISE, in partnership with the Community Church of Wilmette. Now in its third year, and with the support of the City of Chicago’s Chicagobility Summer Internship Project, Project RISE expanded this summer to include 31 youth.

Project RISE works to address biases and barriers that impede access to the workplace—deepening an understanding of how to leverage youths’ strengths and build relationships across ages, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. The program encompasses leadership, financial literacy, resiliency skills training and employment readiness, including the mock interviews and resume support given by members of the church’s congregation.

Mock Interviews

This summer’s participants worked 15 – 20 hours per week and had the opportunity to earn up to $450 in total. Teens were also provided a nutritious daily snack.

Community business partners included Sol Café, Little Beans, Neon, Urban Warrior, V-Tone Fitness, Neon CRM, Heartland Café, Ya Mon Jerk Grill, and the United Church of Rogers Park – all of which provided safe and supportive learning environments for youth.

Exposure to Possible Career Paths

Project RISE also afforded youth an opportunity to attend six field trips and to host four guest speakers. Guest speakers’ presentation topics focused on banking and personal investment strategies.

Field trips exposed youth to a diverse array of postsecondary college or career tracks and included:

–   Morningstar, Inc. (to deepen their understanding of financial literacy and the power of personal savings).

–   WNBA Chicago Sky game (including a “meet and greet” with a player and the coaches to learn more about sports management).

–   Exelon (to learn from a panel of diverse employees about their experiences as people of color in corporate America).

–   Specialty Print Communications (to get a “behind the scenes” look at direct marketing and the company’s innovative online and manufacturing operations).

–   Oakton Community College (to be introduced to the offerings of two-year schools: two-year degrees, certificate programs, and how one can take alternative paths by combining the two – i.e. obtaining an EMT certificate to fund a nursing degree).

Project RISE youth leaning in and asking questions in the Morningstar Board Room

Reaction from Teens

When asked to name one skill gained during the Project RISE experience that they are most proud of, youth shared:

“Teamwork.”

“Getting along with new people I meet.”

“Better listening.”

“Working hard so I can get what I want.”

“My communication skills.”

“Patience and understanding my limits, and finding a way to go beyond them.”

Project RISE continued to provide youth a forum to build transformative relationships, created opportunities for leadership development, and fostered teachable moments. We are excited to continue to grow the Project RISE program in the coming year!

If you are interested in hosting Family Matters teens at your workplace, or in supporting the program in a different way, please contact Chris at chris@familymatterschicago.org. To make a contribution, visit our donation page here.


Learning Matters 2018

This summer Family Matters once again offered the Learning Matters summer program for area youth entering grades 2-6. The program included hands-on classes around a variety of engaging topics, educational field trips (including an overnight camping trip), one-to-one literacy tutoring sessions, and many leadership development activities.

Classes

Youth signed up for week-long morning and afternoon classes, all of which involved project-based experiential problem solving.

In Cupcake Wars, small groups adapted a basic cupcake recipe and decorated the cupcakes to represent countries in the World Cup. The groups then competed in the “World Cupcake Challenge.” In Mad Scientists, youth created a parachute to drop an egg safely to the ground from the 2nd floor fire escape. In Creative Expression, individuals used art materials to create a visual depiction of themselves. In The Building Challenge, popsicle sticks and hot glue were utilized to create a bridge that supported as much weight as possible.

Cupcake Wars

Youth also solved mysteries, created new crayons from crayon scraps, made every kind of slime imaginable, and created cheer routines and dance moves. They learned about animal species, native Illinois plants, and the properties of human blood and how it travels through the body.

During the über-popular Best Lemonade Stand Ever, groups of three devised, prepared, and implemented business plans that included what to sell, where to sell, how to price, and how to advertise their products. Several youth focused their efforts and their wits on creating plans and then rallying the rest of their groups to execute them. They problem-solved along the way; when the first location seemed to be a dud, one group leader started giving out lemonade free of charge, which actually enticed some people to pay. Another leader started walking the area with a sign and became a barker, calling out, “Lemonade — get your nice cold lemonade!” They encouraged their team members when they got distracted, saying, “Hey, you gotta come back over here and help. You want us to make money, right?”

When it was time to divide up the proceeds, each of the 13 team members had earned $4.50. There were happy faces all around!

The Best Ever Lemonade Stand

Underlying all of the fun, the new experiences, and the learning were opportunities to work together to accomplish tasks, to build friendships, to gain and sustain academically, to care for each other, and to build confidence in one’s own abilities to think and create and solve.

Field Trips

Many field trips were incorporated into morning and afternoon classes. Tea Time culminated in a Beach Tea Party (requested by the four girls in the class). The group prepared chai tea in a thermos, packed a bag with tea cups and treats, and then dined at the beach front. Before dipping their feet into the water, the group shared what they appreciated about one another.

Beach Tea Party

The highlight of Animals & Conservation was visiting Not Just Thee Fish Bowl, a pet store in Evanston full of exotic and diverse animals. The youth in the class saw numerous species and loved petting rabbits, guinea pigs, snakes, ferrets, birds, a tortoise, and the store cat, which one of the youth insisted on naming “Steve.” It was exciting to see the children interact with the animals with such curiosity and interest that time stood still.

Visit to Not Just Thee Fish Bowl

Other groups visited Emily Oaks Nature Preserve, The Skokie Sculpture Walk, Patisserie Coralie, and Calvary Cemetery.

The overnight camping trip at the Little House of Glencoe near the Skokie Lagoons was a favorite for everyone. Just thirty minutes from Rogers Park, the campground seemed like a different world. The children ran out of the cars and into the cabin and grounds shrieking: “This place is great!” “How long do we get to stay?” “All of this is ours?”

Tents were pitched, a campfire was lit, meals were made together as a group, trails were hiked, boundless games were played, a hammock and tree swing were set up, crafts were created, and so much fun was had! For a number of youth, this was their first experience “camping,” or it was a first experience in a different way; two students made and tasted s’mores for the first time. It was a wondrous two days, full of fun, creativity, and deepening relationships.  

Little House of Glencoe Camping Trip

Literacy Work

Every student in Learning Matters participated in Power Hour – an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays every week dedicated to reading and literacy activities (and a little math). Additionally, the students were encouraged to participate in the Reading Challenge: to read 500 minutes — 100 minutes per week for each of the five weeks of Learning Matters. Students could count the time they read during Power Hour and also read at home to reach that goal.

Each child was encouraged further to partner with a parent, older sibling or another adult family member and read together during these summer weeks.

Power Hour Reading Buddies

Until Next Summer …

It is such an affirmation to witness the joy and enthusiasm for the learning environment and student camaraderie at Learning Matters each summer.

 


Family Matters’ 2018 Graduates

We’re excited to share the following list of Family Matters’ 2018 graduates. Congratulations to all!

High School Graduates

Ket Net Pree, Acero Cruz High School. Ket will attend a two-year program at Arrupe Loyola this fall, then plans to transfer to a four-year university.

Melissa Soriano, Senn High School. Melissa will attend Truman College in the Fall to complete her Associate’s Degree before transferring to a 4-year University.

Maung Htay, Senn High School. Maung will attend School of the Art Institute of Chicago this fall.

Yissel Saenz, Rickover Naval Academy. Yissel will attend Lake Forest College this fall.

Kaleyah Wesley, Pathways in Education. Kaleyah was the recipient of the CCH (Coalition for Chicago’s Homeless) Scholarship, and will attend Harold Washington City College this fall.

Shaniya Spears, Pathways in Education. Shaniya will attend DePaul University in the fall.

Ariel Thoma, Amundsen High School. Ariel will attend Wright College this fall.

8th Grade Graduates

Jennifer Nunez, Gale Math & Science Academy. Jennifer will attend Sullivan High School.

Serena Phillips, Disney Magnet School. Serena will attend Evanston Township High School.

Jair & Joav Silva, Nichols Middle School. The twins will attend Evanston Township High School.

Orimoloye Wiliams, Nichols Middle School. Ori will attend Niles West High School.

Alex Torrez, Gale Math & Science Academy. Alex will attend Sullivan High School.

Lamonte Weathers, Gale Math & Science Academy

Michael Porter, Gale Math & Science Academy

Jaheem Adams, Gale Math & Science Academy

Other Graduates

Kevin Jones, Curt’s Cafe Training Program

Bianca Armour (Teen Girls Alumna), Concordia University, BA in Healthcare Management and a minor in Human Resources.

Nachelle Burton (Teen Girls Alumna), Arizona State University, MA in Criminal Justice.


Teen Filmmakers Start a Conversation

Members of Boys to Men (Family Matters’ Teen Boys Program) have hosted four community screenings of their film, Silence the Violence, a documentary that looks at the multiple causes of gun violence through the eyes of young men in Chicago. The film is a culmination of roundtable discussions with the police and the community at large.

Silence the Violence was filmed in Rogers Park and includes stories from all around Chicago. It was produced by Chris Spence, Family Matters’ Director of Teen Boys and Youth Engagement, and members of Boys to Men. Funding for the film was generously provided by the Community Church of Wilmette.

The young men in the film provide courageous, genuine reflections about life and death. They maintain that the violence is an issue of easy access to firearms and lack of access to alternatives to violence. The result is a powerfully arranged collection of everyday footage, statistics, 911 calls, and personalization of what have come to be all-too-familiar news stories.

Through the screenings and panel discussions, Family Matters seeks to offer Rogers Park youth a platform for relating their experiences of discrimination, sharing their opinions on the issue of gun violence, and providing other youth an opportunity to offer insight on promoting peace within our neighborhood and city.

“The experience I had at the theater was amazing. It gave me a platform to show other people how minority youth, including myself, struggle in the neighborhood we live in and to tell our personal story. Being on stage answering questions from the audience made me feel as if I was a spokesperson, speaking on behalf of the people in my community.”  

– Elijah, Boys to Men member

The four screenings (held at the Community Church of Wilmette, Centered Studios, and the New 400 Theaters) were followed by panel discussions, which engaged diverse audiences in constructive dialogue with the young men. Given participant responses, we believe that they emerged with a deeper understanding of these complex issues.

“The screening was a great thing. I love the way I got to talk about our community problems and to find a solution. We need all the help we can get to make our community a better place.”

– Derek, Boys to Men member

Proceeds from the screenings support Project RISE, which offers internships for the youth at local businesses.

We are hopeful that the screenings have inspired future opportunities for collaboration and justice-oriented action.

If you or someone you know is interested in hosting a group screening of the film, please contact Amanda Reuter at amanda@familymatterschicago.org. We would also welcome feedback from anyone who attended one of the screenings.

If you would like to make a contribution to support Boys to Men, please follow this link.


Family Matters’ Road to Equity

The road to equity began long before us, and the journey is ongoing. For the 2017-2018 program year, Family Matters has updated its mission, vision, and core value statements to reflect the fact that we are now viewing the work we do through the targeted lens of eliminating racism and oppression. In doing so, we sought the input of youth, parents, the Board, volunteers, and staff and hosted a community Peace Circle to ensure all voices were represented. Our intent is to add more voices to the conversation to address the following justice issues:

Efforts to close the educational gap—Much of the disparity in test scores between youth of color and white youth can be traced to the limited resources of under-performing schools in the area. At Family Matters we offer individualized, culturally relevant academic tutor-mentoring to support youth in reaching their highest potentials, receiving equitable opportunities, and achieving outcomes for college- and career-readiness.

Disproportionally high rates of suspension—According to the Brown Center Report (BRC) on Education, African-American youth are suspended at a rate 13.4% higher than their white peers. The goal of our Alternative to Suspension program is to transform the suspension period into a positive, reflective, and valuable experience for youth by providing a safe space, holistic counseling, and a restorative approach to resolving conflict.

Swimming access and inequities—Historical segregation, persistent stereotypes, and lack of access and instruction have kept many of the youth in the North of Howard neighborhood from the opportunity to swim. Family Matters’ Making Waves program, in partnership with the YMCA, is changing that—providing swimming and water safety lessons weekly.

Youth employment opportunities—One of the most effective means of preventing neighborhood violence and promoting peace is employment. With the support of Northwestern University, a CPR certification program was offered to 20 youth in January, opening up pathways for job options. Also, Project RISE, the summer employment initiative of the Teen Programs, will continue, and we hope to expand it to a full-year program.

Community engagement projects—The argument could be made that focusing on social justice issues is a luxury available only to those with substantial resources. We at Family Matters think that it is vital to the lives of Family Matters youth to learn how social change can be effected through community service. Check out our website to learn of the many community engagement projects youth from K – 12 grades are spearheading!

Co-creating a safe space for all—Peaceful dialogues are underway as the Boys to Men program members have begun to screen their documentary “Silence the Violence” around the community. Trainings on our model, Principles of Leadership, are also intentionally focused on facilitating personal and collective justice—through developing strong relationships, meaningful communication, and safe environments—for courageous social change.

In the Family Matters community, we inspire each other as our expectations for equity elevate. We are counting on others in the community to push us to aim higher and higher. To this end, we have created a “Staff Picks” list of our team’s favorite social-change books, songs, podcasts, movies, and more as a way to deepen understanding of the social justice issues. Distributing this list is our way of reaching out and inviting responses, including the addition of our supporters’ personal favorites.

Staff Picks on the Topic of Equity

Books

White Rage by Carol Anderson

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Waking up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Yurguru by Marimba Ani

The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace by John Paul Lederach

A People’s History of Chicago by Kevin Coval

Creating True Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh

Integrating Mindfulness into Anti-Oppression Pedagogy by Beth Berila

Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice by Carla Shedd

Beautiful, Also, Are the Souls of My Black Sisters: A History of the Black Woman in America by Jeanne Noble

Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? The Afrikan American Family in Transition by Haki Madhubuti

Honoring Genius: Gwendolyn Brooks by Haki Madhubuti

By Any Means Necessary Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented edited by Herb Boyd, Ron Daniels, Maulana Karenga, and Haki Madhubuti

Liberation Narratives by Haki Madhubuti

Walking in Circles by Barbara Sizemore

2000 Seasons by Ayi Kwei Armah

Books by Audre Lorde


Podcasts

Bronzeville

Code Switch

On Being by Krista Tippett

This American Life – “Three Miles” https://www.thisamericanlife.org/550/three-miles 

Snap Judgement – “Senior Year Mix Tape” http://snapjudgment.org/senior-year-mixtape 

 

Films

13th

Get Out

Moonlight

Sankofa

Quilumbo

Remember the Titans


Articles

https://onbeing.org/blog/what-i-said-when-my-white-friend-asked-for-my-black-opinion-on-white-privilege/

Sojourners –  (https://sojo.net/)

Videos and Music
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=43gm3CJePn0

https://www.wbez.org/shows/morning-shift/the-physical-long-term-effects-of-childhood-trauma/68f8d847-492b-4a82-9f43-e332461a780a

https://www.ted.com/talks/nadine_burke_harris_how_childhood_trauma_affects_health_across_a_lifetime?utm_campaign=tedspread–b&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

 


Workplace Communication: When in Doubt …

Uplift Industries was a small marketing firm in Chicago dedicated to furthering the missions of local businesses. The team comprised a Chief Marketing Officer, Phyllis; a Marketing Manager, Laura; and the Marketing Assistant, Simone. The workload and pace of their clients’ campaigns made collaboration key and communication critical. Having worked together for a couple of years and being mutually invested in the achievement of their firm, they considered one another friends and had a basic understanding of each other’s mindsets.

Still, there were times when team dynamics or project situations gave rise to uncertainty or conflict. Given their mix of passive and assertive personalities, this resulted in experiences of rejection, frustration, and/or anxiety. These feelings were rarely shared with one another, as no one wanted to “rock the boat.”

Business had picked up, and they were pleasantly and overwhelmingly busy. Phyllis decided to assign Simone, the assistant, with a large project- a radio advertisement for the Park District. Later that week, when Simone reported on her progress at a Team Meeting, Laura, the manager, appeared visibly upset; her face had become flushed and she quickly went through her section of the agenda with quivering emotion in her voice.

Often, Simone and Laura would meet after the Team Meeting to debrief and check in with one another. This time, Laura went immediately to her office, dimmed the lights, and locked the door behind her. Simone began to worry:

  • Did she think my pitch was terrible? Did something I said offend her?
  • Was she upset that the Park District project was assigned to me?
  • Is she jealous that the Park District project was assigned to me?
  • Why can’t she be supportive of this opportunity for me? There’s plenty of work to go around.

Laura’s standoffish behavior lasted throughout the week, and Simone tortured herself trying to figure out what she had done wrong. Finally, on Friday afternoon, she decided to confront the situation and knocked on the door.

Simone: Hi Phyllis. Do you have a minute to talk?

Laura: Yes, of course, please come in. What is it?

Simone: I was wondering if there was anything about our Team Meeting that was upsetting to you? I noticed you were quieter than usual. What are your thoughts about my taking on the Park District project?

Laura: Oh my gosh, I’m sorry. I struggle with migraines – a bad one came on during that meeting. When that happens, I have to dim the lights and be in silence. If you ever notice that I’m shutting my door, please feel free to knock and come in.

Simone: Oh, I’m so glad I asked. I’m sorry you’ve been feeling so poorly!

Laura: Yeah, and since you mentioned it, Phyllis did ask me to start on the Park District project a couple of weeks ago. I had not quite gotten to it. It seems like a duplication of efforts and I am confused about why she would ask both of us to work on it.

Simone: Can we both go talk to Phyllis now to see why or how that happened, and to figure out an effective system for communicating who is going to be doing what from now on? 

As it turned out, Phyllis had completely forgotten that she had already assigned the project to Laura first. She was relieved that her team came to speak with her directly, together, instead of harboring resentment or theorizing without her input.

All three left the office on Friday ready for the weekend – so glad that “when in doubt, they checked it out.”

Try this: Make note of the next time you make an assumption. Could there be another explanation? Challenge yourself to approach the other person and ask questions to clarify the situation. You may be surprised to learn the full story!


Jennifer and Faith

With eighth grade on the horizon, Jennifer, That Goddess Power (Teen Girls Program) member since 2015, decided she could benefit from Evening Tutoring. In the past twelve months, she has suffered two devastating losses – an uncle to cancer and a close friend in a drowning at the neighborhood beach. Focusing on academics was difficult to do with the anger that surfaced.

Her tutor-mentor, Faith, shares, “That’s one of the first things we bonded over – losing someone. It’s a challenging situation, and I think it’s why Jennifer ended the last year with D’s and F’s. She’s got the drive and motivation. She can do anything she puts her mind to.”

Faith supported Jennifer, and Jennifer worked closely with Ashaki, the Director of That Goddess Power, on ways to regain control of her emotions. The Family Matters community watched eagerly as Jennifer gained the skills she needed to be the star she always wanted to be. She now has all A’s and B’s and is going to sing at her eighth grade graduation ceremony. “It’s because of [Faith and Ashaki]. Because they tell me not to give up; that if I want something I have to earn it.”

Looking back, Jennifer recalled the crucial love and support Ashaki showed to her when she was feeling at her lowest. “She was always there for me. She told me ‘Never give up on what you want. You’re a strong girl. You’re a powerful girl.’ I’d like to thank her for everything she did for me, and especially for listening to everything I had to say.”

Jennifer and Faith also find enjoyment each week when they play math games and listen to music. Faith appreciates the collaborative nature of the Evening Tutoring program, and how she feels listened to and supported. “I’m a piece of the puzzle here.”

Jennifer realizes that hard work and community will be integral in achieving her long-term dreams. She wants to be “a social worker, a dancer, a singer, and a counselor who helps kids who’ve been through things like I have.” She knows, too, that self-love will be the first step in accomplishing these goals. “First we have to love ourselves, then we can love others.” she reflects.

For Jennifer and Faith, that’s what Family Matters is all about. Faith says, “It’s Supportive. Positive. Collaborative.” Jennifer adds, “It’s Community. Leadership. And Love.”


The Band-Aid Activity

This fall, Family Connections is addressing the concept of Educational Equity. To introduce the youth (ages 8-12) to the concept of equity, members participated in a “Band-Aid” activity:

Each youth chose an injury card from a basket. The injuries ranged from a scratched finger to a stomach ache to a shark bite. After reading the injury aloud, each child was given a band-aid to treat the ailment. The youth then answered a series of questions, including: “Is it fair that everyone received a band-aid?” and “Did you receive the treatment that you needed?”

At first, the children said that the band-aid treatment was not fair, because the individual with the stomach ache, for example, needed medicine and not a band-aid. They discussed the concept of equality and fairness, sharing that everyone receiving the exact same thing is, in fact, “fair.”

“Equity” is defined as all individuals getting what they need, as opposed to “equality,” where everyone receives the same treatment.” The youth were invited to share other examples of people receiving “equitable” treatment, instead of “equal” treatment. As they transitioned into afternoon tutoring, they were invited to think about their individual needs regarding academic support, and encouraged to seek what they need at Family Matters, whether it be a break during homework completion or an opportunity to research a personal interest with the support of their tutors.

If you have an example of Equity vs. Equality, we’d love to hear it!


Practicing Compassion at Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a day of family, abundance, and gratitude. It is a day spent with those you love and those you may see only once a year. Thanksgiving is a joyous time of football, food, and celebration. Thanksgiving can also be a day where social, political, religious, and/or family differences give rise to conflict.

When tension arises, it can be valuable to remember to ask yourself the question “how can I practice compassion?” and to bring the second Principle of Family Matters’ Principles of LeadershipPeaceful Conflict Resolution – to bear.

Peaceful Conflict Resolution encourages us to turn conflict into an opportunity to understand perspectives that are different from our own in order to learn and grow from our new understanding. The process encourages us to enter into conflict with the intent to resolve it – increasing our empathy toward others and understanding their viewpoints, thereby strengthening our relationships.

The key to positive conflict resolution situations is that both sides try leaning in, listening closely to what each person is saying, and practicing compassion. Asking clarifying questions will reflect a person’s understanding of what the other person has said and give that person an opportunity to correct any misconceptions. Both parties are then able to move forward and work on an acceptable solution for the conflict.

A few things to remember:

  • Strengthening a critical relationship can be more valuable than “winning” a conflict.
  • It takes all parties involved to resolve a conflict.
  • Be sure conflicts are resolved rather than managed, otherwise they will likely flare up again.
  • Understand what “pushes your buttons” and how you can respond rather than react.
  • Practice compassion for yourself and others.

Although solving all of the world’s problems over Thanksgiving dinner is beyond reach, you may be able to bring a positive change for yourself and those around you by practicing compassion, which fosters open, respectful, and honest conversations that build authentic relationships.