AHA! Workshops: An Update

By Dr. John Graham-Pole

Yellow FlowerWe’ve now had five workshops, attended by between twelve and eighteen participants each time. We’ve learned a lot about self-directed learning, about each other, and about having “serious fun” together. We’ve welcomed new participants to each workshop, which has been delightful and at the same time challenging, trying to get everyone up to speed whilst working and playing with many concepts and directions. It’s been helpful always remembering, “We don’t know where we’re going but we’re not lost!”

These are some threads common to all five workshops: (a) we’ve drawn each time on adult education’s Appreciative Inquiry (AI) model of the “5Ds” (Define, Discover, Dream, Design, Destiny); (b) we’ve created an ongoing “values map” from many hundreds of participants’ stick-it notes and reflections: (c) we’ve explored how what we’re learning together in our cross-training fits with the recognized WHO social determinants of health (SDHs); (d) we’ve highlighted how adult play can be deep and serious fun; and (e) we’re collecting a unique body of appreciative evaluation of each other, and of ourselves, which can only grow.

What’s next? We’re spoiled for choice! We have three closely interconnected strands: (a) we’re awaiting a decision on the grants we’ve submitted to NS Communities, Culture, & Heritage and to our Community Health Board Wellness Fund to bring three nationally known artist/educators to conduct AHA! workshops and community-wide events later this year; (b) we’re broadening our net locally to invite others working in the arts, health, and education to consider facilitating our next workshop series; and (c) we’re building on our established values, on adult game theory, and on our self-directed learning, to dream and design our destiny—namely, the cultural pillar of Sustainable Antigonish.


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