Author Janice Neilson, drawing upon over thirty years work with vulnerable children in ten countries, provides comforting and effective aid for children dealing with identity and self-identification issues, whether induced by loss and trauma or by ordinary life. Neilson's book takes the child through increasingly deeper, uplifting arts activities including music, movement, creative drama, drawing/painting/collage/photography, story listening, story telling, personal reflection, poetry writing. Children love these activities and the illustrations by artist Diana Magnuson. The accomplishments captured in the workbook help the children to recognize their own unique gifts and skills, to acknowledge their losses, to gain strength from their memories of people who have loved them, and to believe that they each have a place in the future of a world that needs their contribution.
Each section of I Am Who? begins with a creative activity or "game." When the game has been completed, an entry is made in the book: something formed or found by the child, photos of the child on that day, thoughts from the child or adult about the activity day, etc. The activities and accompanying reflections are to be completed over time in order to allow children's comfort with the process to grow, to involve family members in supporting the children's efforts, and to allow children to create items or seek information to enter in their books. Because some subjects in the book are very sensitive, the children must be made comfortable at all times, offered the opportunity to express their feelings, allowed to move at their own pace and to substitute activities of their own choosing. The I Am Who? book is the personal and permanent possession of each child and contains all activity information so that children have the option to complete an activity at any time in the future and to return as needed to this memory book's evidence of their own resilience, which will help them to cope with hardships in their on-going lives.
I AM WHO? Activities:
1. Myself: There Is Only One of Me!
2. My Big Self
3. My Heritage
4. My Place in the World
5. My Family Tree
6. My Life as a Puzzle
7. My Special Person - 1
8. My Special Person - 2
9. My Memories
10. My Goals, Hopes and Dreams
11. My Paintings from the Heart
12. My Thoughts Have Wings
Girl, age 9: "This painting game makes me feel warm in my heart."
Boy, age 10: "I love this imagination game. The tiny tree is growing with no sorrow or sadness."
Girl, age 15, whose father died recently: "Whenever I open my I Am Who? book, I feel my father is close to me."
Boy, age 14: "I like the words here. They tell me what I should and can do tomorrow."