One month after the first book launch in the UK, the authors (all 3 this time!) spent the weekend celebrating and hosting all things Follow Your Heart, in Turin, Italy— home to Valentina and Margherita. The event was held in a space used by the project Habitat, which is a community organization that offers quality, accessible education for primary-aged children. Habitat offered their space at no charge, so the authors chose to donate the funds raised from book sales back to the organization to further support their programming and materials needed.
The event started off on a lively note as 18 children and their families gathered in a brightly-lit room and listened to a short introduction of the book, and then a bilingual reading of The Story of Cora by both Emily (in English) and Margherita (in Italian). The children, ages 4 to 10, sat together as the authors interpreted the story and engaged with the observations and remarks made by the children as they listened. It was the first time the story had been read aloud to an audience and the eagerness of the children to follow along and listen was very heartwarming and encouraging! After sharing The Story of Cora, the amazing Jorinde Green took over and led a couple guided activities before children took part in the more self-directed activities towards the end of the event.
The event truly took shape thanks to Jorinde Green, the owner of LaLa Land and contributor of the "Mystery Box" activtiy in Follow Your Heart. She is an enthusiastic, passionate educator who runs bilingual (Italian and English) courses, and her collaboration with the authors and contributions to Follow Your Heart have not been unnoticed. Jori organized activities around the theme of Follow Your Heart including a multi-sensory, multilingual activity called the "Mystery Box", along with an interactive song called "I am a super hero" with flashcards and actions. The Mystery Boxes were filled with profession-related objects such as a microphone, chef's hat, and toothbrush, and prior to feeling around the mystery box to search and discover the items, Jori went through a set of flash cards with "traditional" and "less traditional" profession cartoons, such as singer, chef, and dentist. Each traditional profession (i.e. dentist) was paired with a non-traditional, more creative profession such as an artist through a matching mechanism. In the end, the overall learning objective was to show children that you do not have to choose just one profession and that you can be more than one thing. Someone who is a dentist might also have a beautiful voice and sing in a band— the idea that we are not defined by just one career and that careers can take many different shapes and pathways.
After the Mystery Box, Jori led the children through a song that touched on 3 different aspects of emotional education—moving, singing and playing—with powerful lyrics based on the theme that we can be anything because we have multiple talents and a strong body and mind to support us. The children ran around, burned some energy and then headed to the tables at the back of the room to use a variety of crafting materials to decorate letters (cut from recycled cardboard) to spell Follow Your Heart which was the continuation of a co-created project started at the first book launch and workshop in the UK. There were also tables set up with soil, seeds and biodegradable pots for children to take part in mindful and conscious gardening (another activtiy promoted in the book).
Overall, the event was very energetic and inspiring filled with plenty of great conversations, engaged children and yummy food. Both parents and children were equally engaged. The debriefing session that followed between the authors and Jori led to exciting conversations about future collaborations between her school and the Follow Your Heart model... like a potential summer camp!!
Next stop on the 2023 book launch series... Marseille, France!
From left to right, Margherita, Jorinde, Emily and Valentina after the book launch wrapped up in Turin on March 18 2023.