What Does Compassion Look Like? The Appleton Compassion Project

When we talk with audiences of all ages about what it means to be humane, one of the most frequent words people mention is "compassion." Compassion for ourselves, for other people, for animals, and for the planet we all inhabit. Recently I discovered a creative and inspiring project -- great for schools and other educational organizations to customize and replicate -- combining art and an exploration of compassion. The Appleton Wisconsin school district teamed up with several art organizations for the Appleton Compassion Project. More than 10,000 K-12 students created a work of art depicting their vision of compassion. The entire exhibit for this community art project (which was exhibited at The Trout Museum of Art) is now available to view online and includes students' statements about their work.

The inspiration behind the project came from Professor Richard Davidson, a brain researcher who has found "that those who practice compassion have measurably healthier brains."

It would be really interesting to hear what kind of impact this project has had on the students. And I wonder about the results if teachers and administrators had also participated.

Can you imagine the energy and buzz that must have bubbled to the surface with more than 10,000 young people focusing their thoughts on compassion? What if 10,000 students focused their attention and energies on becoming solutionaries for a better world?

Who else out there is using art as a tool for humane education? Let us know!

~ Marsha

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