All Kids Included
Can you imagine a world where all kids felt included and safe to be themselves? Just for a moment, imagine living in a world where all kids learned to treat themselves and others with kindness because they saw it modeled in their homes and schools, on TV and movies, video games, stages and theater performances in their communities. If envisioning that kind of world makes you smile and ignites a spark of hope, then don’t miss this short and inspiring conversation with Kindness Influencer and Podcast Host, Marly Q, plus special guest, Annie Hoffman, who’s doing her part to create a world where all kids are included, every day!
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MANkind Summit May 17-19, 2023
“Kindness is not doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because you can.” ~ Andrew Iskander
Listen to this Episode and Discover…
- How one South Florida event makes sure ALL Kids are Included in the arts*
- How kindness and the arts are parallel driving factors for wellness
- How the arts plays a role in reducing stress, for kids and adults alike!
- Specific ways that the arts can be used a healing modality and means of connection
About Marly Q:
Kindness Influencer, Leadership Trainer, and Community-Builder on a mission to create a kinder world for over two decades. Through her podcast, she invites listeners to make “Time to Be Kind” each week to receive a spark of kindness, connection and community.
Connect with Marly Q:
About Our Guest:
Annie Hoffman is the Education and Outreach Manager at the Dennis C. Moss Cultural Arts Center, a division of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. In this role, Annie oversees a wide range of programs and initiatives designed to promote arts and culture throughout the community. With her expertise and passion for the arts, Annie has become a well-respected leader in the field, known for her ability to engage and inspire diverse audiences. Her dedication to promoting inclusivity and accessibility in the arts has made a significant impact on the community, and her tireless efforts have helped to ensure that the arts remain a vibrant and vital part of Miami-Dade County’s cultural landscape.
Connect with The Dennis C Moss Cultural Arts Center
Upcoming Event: MANkind Summit May 17-19, 2023 – www.mankindsummit.com
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00:00 Marly Q
Imagine for a moment a world where all kids grew up feeling included and invited in and safe to be themselves. If imagining that world makes you smile and gives you hope, then stay tuned.
**Kind Update about MANkind Summit**
Oh, and one more thing. If you don’t already know, next month we’re hosting our second annual MANkind Summit. If you want to be the first one to know and have the details to this, you better be in our Kind QREW. If you haven’t joined our private Facebook group yet, now’s the time you can find the link to join that over at Marlyq.com forward slash this episode number.
00:48 Marly Q
Hello and Welcome. Thank you so much for making Time to Be Kind with Marly Q and our special guest, PARKer today, she is a friend and a client. We’ve been working together for many years. This is the education and outreach manager at the Dennis C. Moss Cultural Arts Center with the Miami Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. It is a mouthful and it is a huge undertaking. And this role that this beautiful woman takes on so gracefully. Please welcome to the show Annie Hoffman.
01:15 Annie Hoffman
Hello. Thank you so much for having me. Marly.
01:13 Marly Q
Yay. Welcome. How’d you like your grand intro?
01:20 Annie Hoffman
I loved it. I loved it. Thank you.
01:23 Marly Q
I see you blushing. I’m going to make her blush a little more, because not only is her job about creating arts in the community or uniting the community around the arts and making it accessible for all, she’s also a board certified and registered art therapist and a licensed mental health counselor. She has spent the majority of her career advocating for and educating about the healing and community building aspects of being involved with the arts. She is passionate about the arts and making it accessible for all, and that passion just lights me up. So again, thank you so much for making Time to be kind.
01:56 Annie Hoffman
Well, thank you again for inviting me to join you today. I’m so excited to talk to you. Anytime I get to talk to you, I just get excited. So thanks, Marly.
02:05 Marly Q
Ditto ditto. And for our friends who are listening and spending time with us maybe for the first time, could you remind us or tell us what’s a PARKer?
02:15 Annie Hoffman
Yes. So a PARKer is someone who performs acts of random kindness and they’re led by their desire well, I’m just speaking for me, I guess, but their desire to do things in community with others and connect with others.
02:30 Marly Q
Yes. That is beautiful. My goal is to have this in the dictionary and have it be like a standard of human behavior. And how you identify? I identify as a PARKer, a person that Performs Acts of Random Kindness. And April is Stress Awareness Month, and I’m curious how you feel that kindness and the arts play a role in reducing stress.
02:54 Annie Hoffman
I think they have a huge role. Kindness just fills you up when you are being kind, having community with other people, connecting with other people, you’re filled up. And that contributes to your overall reduction in stress and it makes us feel better. The arts go hand in hand with that most of the time. I find that artists want to engage with their communities. And when we engage with arts, we are able to do so with others, whether that might be as a spectator or a participant. And the act of creating or the act of being in a space where art is happening, like a live performance that makes us feel connected. And being connected helps us reduce our stress and just makes us feel better overall.
03:41 Marly Q
Yes, absolutely. Are you listening? It sounds so simple, but when it becomes an actual standard and a value and a practice more than anything else, then we really could experience like an elevated sense of wellness, regardless of the amount of stressful events happening outside of you or whatever life throws at you, right? Like just having this be part of your lifestyle. So can you share with us what sparked your interest in the arts and specifically as like a healing modality?
04:15 Annie Hoffman
I grew up with the arts. I learned how to draw and paint and sew from my grandmother and my mom. And it was something that I just kind of remember doing always. I know when my mom would take me and she was going to class or she was going to something, she would take me and I would just kind of be sitting somewhere coloring. And so for me, I think I just always used the arts as a way to express myself and to calm myself, to soothe myself, no matter really where I was. And I found a way to connect with other people through the arts. And so as I first learned about what art therapy was, the minute that I learned about what art therapy was, I thought, oh, this is it. I felt like I was missing something. As going through art school, I felt like I needed a little bit more. I wanted to go in a little bit of a different direction. And then I kind of found my community. And so to me, being an art therapist and working in the arts as an arts administrator and an arts education, it gives me that sense of opening the world up for other people and for myself too. And that’s kind of what I think the arts and healing is all about, is just opening up the door to folks so that they can experience all the benefits that art making, engaging with the arts have to offer.
05:36 Marly Q
I love that and I love how it is parallel to kindness. Right. Because the arts don’t just benefit the artist and the one making the art. Art benefits the spectator. It benefits a participant. And that’s how I feel kindness is as well. It doesn’t just benefit the person that’s performing the act of random kindness. It’s also the person that’s receiving it, someone that might have observed that or witnessed it and it creates a ripple. Right. Can you speak to that?
06:03 Annie Hoffman
Yeah, I mean, that’s one of the things that I love about the job that I do currently as the education outreach manager at the Moss Center is that I build these programs and create opportunities for folks. And so I see that kind of rippling out effect as being shared amongst the community. Right. And the arts have a way of doing that in terms of just bringing people together from all different backgrounds to have this shared experience. And there’s this bonding kind of thing that happens. It’s hard to put it into words, but it’s just such a magical experience that happens. And I’m always so grateful that I get to be part of that. That also happens when I’m facilitating an art therapy group. We have this shared experience where we’re coming together and there’s this rippling of energy going out and yeah, it definitely has that parallel with kindness.
06:56 Marly Q
I agree. Well, I love the Moss Center and what you all do year round. I mean, I’m only a part of this one particular event that we’re going to be hosting next Saturday. We’re going to tell you about that in just a moment. But can you tell me about the year round programming that’s offered at the Moss Center?
07:12 Annie Hoffman
Yeah, I would love to. We have something for everyone. So if you haven’t been to the Moss Center before, I would encourage you to come down. Whether it’s music, dance, theater, you name it. We’ve got so much going on throughout the year. We also have free parking and it’s super easy to get to us. We’re just right off the turnpike. But as we were just talking about that rippling out effect, there’s nothing like being able to experience live arts performances. So it’s part of our mission to help people access the arts. We have several free events open to the community throughout the season. We also have a really great family series that provides opportunities for families with children to experience the arts together. Just this past season, we had Disney’s, Winnie the Pooh and we had a big fun, big top circus on our back lawn. We also have an incredible dance series that brings in some of the top dance companies to our stage right here in Cutler Bay. So if you don’t already follow us on social media, we’re at the Underscore Moss underscore center and you can keep up to date with all that we have going on. It’s a lot that we have, so we hope to see you there.
08:19 Marly Q
I love it. And for our friends who aren’t from South Florida, we will still put these links and the social media handles in our Show Notes page to connect. Because there are also some virtual opportunities that you offer, right?
08:31 Annie Hoffman
Yes, we do. We partnered with some of our local arts organizations. This is our third year now doing it, but we do provide free virtual field trip opportunities each season to students in Miami Dade County. We partnered with the Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami Theater Center, and the Culture Shock Miami through the Department of Cultural Affairs to form the Miami Dade Arts Education Collective. So that’s a virtual programming that happens each season. In addition to those dance performances that I was just speaking about, we usually do a virtual free pre show talk, which sometimes features the artistic directors or choreographers, and those are on our website, our YouTube channel. So we do definitely still embrace virtual, which is something that came out of the pandemic, but it’s sticking around because it helps us connect beyond just our local community.
09:24 Marly Q
Yes, it is sticking around. And this retired recovering event planner made the pivot over to virtual. And I never thought in a million years I would say, wow, like, virtual is here to stay. And at least as a kindness, influencer, and a leadership trainer, a speaker, a community builder, the work that I do, virtual is like the way that I can better amplify this message and really unite people around the world that really want to create a shift in this world to a kinder one, right? And I think you’re doing that work in small ways and maybe ways that we don’t see right away the impact of that. But I do believe in the ripple effect of kindness and the arts and these experiences that you’re creating for all people, right? These are like accessible art programs and I love that. So could you tell us about the all kids included Family Arts Festival? That I’m so excited about it’s next week. I get to Emcee, I get to be a part of the team. I mean, I’ve been a part of the event for over a decade, so I’m bragging here. But this is one of my favorite events of the year. Not only because it is completely aligned with my mission in life, but it is also just a spectacular outpour and representation and embodiment of community. Community coming together to celebrate the arts, participate in the arts, and more importantly, make it accessible and available to all. Can you tell us more about the All Kids Included – Family Arts Festival?
10:49 Annie Hoffman
Yes, I would love to. It just so happens to be one of my favorite events every year, too. I look forward to it. It’s part of what drew me to this job and the Moss Center. So, this is our 17th annual free all kids included family Arts Festival. It’s an incredible day where we invite everyone to come out to experience a fun filled day of inclusive arts experiences for children and families with and without disabilities. As you said, this year it’s on Saturday, May 6, from 10:00 A.m to 03:00 P.M at the Dennis Sea Moss Cultural Arts Center, or the Moss Center for Short, which is formerly known as the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center. It’s the same place. We just have a new name.
11:31 Marly Q
That’s important to say. That’s important to say. The South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center is now the Moss Center. There you go.
11:37 Annie Hoffman
Yes. So we will have sensory inclusive mainstage performances where we have modified light and sound. We also have a quiet room that is staffed by the amazing folks from the Advocacy Network on Disabilities. We have some amazing performances from our local arts organizations, such as the Children’s Voice Chorus. We also have something I’m really excited about. We have an immersive digital based arts installation called Light Waves by South Florida artist Monica Lopez de Victoria. We’ve got great food options. We just have so much to do. So I really hope to see you all there. One other thing to add is that we have put up the schedule already on our website, and we do this as also a way to think about accessibility so that folks can have a chance to look at that schedule and think about how they want to plan out their day. We also have what’s called a social narrative, where you can download that right on our website. And that’s something that kind of goes through what an experience of coming to the center might be like. And that’s really helpful for any folks with sensory sensitivities or anxiety. And all of that is on our website at mosscenter.org.
12:50 Marly Q
I love that some people listening may not have heard what a social narrative is or may not be just familiar with the accessibility features right. That an event could include. Could we dive into them a little bit more? Because I think this is really important and I’m not sure that we highlight it enough right. When we say that it’s accessible, that we provide accessibility for all. Let’s get really specific. Right? I know you mentioned that inside the theater, with the theater performance, there’s the light sensory component to it, but you also have, like, captioning and ASL, right?
13:19 Annie Hoffman
Yeah. That’s great to add. Yeah. So we do have, as I mentioned, we have a sensory inclusive performance. So that means that we’ve made slight adjustments to the performance in terms of light and sound. And we have that quiet room available so that if any point during the performance anyone is feeling a little overwhelmed or they just need a little bit of a sensory break, they can go to that quiet room. They’re still actually able to watch the performance through a window that we have, but they’re able to kind of modify their experience a little bit so that they can enjoy the performance, too. We also have ASL interpreters, american Sign Language interpreters, throughout the entire venue. That day at all of the different things that we have going on. We have audio description at the main stage performances, which happens to be for folks that are blind or have low vision, where they’re actually describing what’s happening on the stage, that happens through headsets. And we have open captions, which is where someone might be hard of hearing. They can actually get on their device and see a transcript of what’s being said, any kind of verbal dialogue that’s happening on the stage. So we’ve really tried to think about these different layers of accessibility so that everybody can enjoy what we have to offer that day. We also always have noise canceling headsets available, assistive listening devices. We also have a braille program and a large print program. So these are just some of the various things that folks would find if they come that day.
14:52 Marly Q
Yeah, different accommodations. Very carefully and kindly thought through accommodations that unless we tell people, unless we share that this is available, some families may just assume that it’s not, right? I can definitely imagine being a parent of a child, maybe that’s on the autism spectrum or that maybe has a particular disability or in a wheelchair or what have you, and I want to go to this event. I’d love to take my child to see a performance, but I feel stressed or I’m worried or there’s anxiety. Right. So to be able to deliberately tell families, hey, at this event, we got you, we’ve created this safe Place. I’ve experienced through the almost a decade that I’ve been a part of the event. Many families and kids that maybe are a little bit overwhelmed, there’s too much going on, and they just go to the quiet room, and a little while later, they come outside and they’re smiling and they’re having a good time, and they want to take a picture with me as the Emcee because they think I’m a big deal, right? I’ll never forget that. I’m going to share.
15:48 Annie Hoffman
Well, you are a big deal, but okay.
15:50 Marly Q
One of my favorite memories at the All Kids Included – Family Arts Festival was this one year. I come off stage, and this little girl, she’s looking right up at me, and she’s like, hi. Wow, are you somebody? Like, with these big eyes. She’s like, wow, are you somebody? And I got down. I kind of whine. I looked at her and I’m like, yeah, my name is Marly Q, and guess what? You’re somebody too. That little girl was like she had me sign, like, her program. I did an autograph. Her mom took a picture. It was like, so sweet. It was one of these memories that I will take with me forever. It’s like, are you somebody? And so are you. And I feel that feeling, that kindness just permeates throughout the entire event. All of the staff, all of the volunteers, everybody that comes together really does come together in kindness in a community building effort. And I really wanted to share my platform and this audience. Even though it’s not only South Florida, I really wanted to let the world know that the all Kids Included family Arts festival happens each and every year in South Florida. And it’s not just this one time event, right? It’s part of a larger initiative from the Miami Dade County Cultural Affairs Department. Can you tell us about that?
17:02 Annie Hoffman
Yeah. So the all kids Included Family Arts Festival is supported by the Department of Cultural Affairs and with support from the Children’s Trust. And it basically is connected with this year long program that the department runs called All Kids Included and that has so many different facets that go on. The festival is kind of our culminating event. We also have a student art competition that runs every year, and at the festival, we have the award ceremony. We also show all of the artwork. We have the winning artwork in person, but we show all the artwork as well. They also do teacher training so that teachers throughout Miami Dade County can have access to learning from some of the best and new techniques, best practices in working with children with disabilities. They run summer camps. There’s an animation camp that they run that is led by a woman with autism every year that fills up every summer. So there’s just so many things that All Kids Included Miami does, and I am just so happy to be part of it and be able to create and work with them to develop all these programs that we have for people throughout Miami. You can find out more about that at allkidsincludedmiami.org.
18:21 Marly Q
Oh, great. We’ll include that link as well. I love that we are just a wealth of resources here, just a little sneak peek at the amount of resources that are available when you connect with the All Kids Included Family Arts Festival. We have a beautiful list of community resource partners that all come together and basically volunteer their time this beautiful day to make available the resources that we have for families with and without disabilities in the community. So I love you and the work that you do and the great team over at the Moss Center. I am grateful anytime that I can be a part of this initiative. And I just want to thank you for making the time to be kind with us here today and tell us about it.
19:01 Annie Hoffman
Thank you again for having me. I love talking about the All Kids Included Festival, and I love getting to work with you on it because you always just bring this positive radiating energy out. So I really appreciate you inviting me on today.
So there you have it. If you live in South Florida, friends, and even if you have kids or not, I invite you to check out the All Kids Included Family Arts Festival on May 6. Connect with the Moss Center and the all kids included Miami initiatives. You can find the links for those details over on my website at Marlyq.com this episode number. So whatever episode number this is, go to Marlyq.com that number.
Oh, and one more thing! If you don’t already know, may is Mental Health Awareness Month, and next month we’re hosting our second annual MANkind Summit. If you want to be the first one to know and have the details to this, you better be in our Kind QREW. If you haven’t joined our private Facebook group yet, now’s the time you can find the link to join that over at Marlyq.com forward slash this episode number. Thank you so much for making time to be kind with Marly Q. See you next time.
MANkind Summit May 17-19, 2023
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