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Roots & Wings Kingston

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Download your own copy of Roots & Wings 'Dreaming Better Futures' here.

June 2021

Abolition Dream Mappers x Roots & Wings (R&W) Workshop Design

The following workshop plans were formulated for the Roots & Wings Kingston’s ‘Where Life Matters, Life Matters’ Fall 2020 programming term. For four months, youths explored the ideas of abolition, care, and community. We, the Abolition Dream Mappers, had the opportunity to work with R&W to create and facilitate three workshops. Some elements of these plans have been adjusted for broader use and adaptability. In unravelling such significant topics, our workshops were conversation and practice-based. While the troupe leaders posed topics and questions, we wanted the youths to explore their own thinking and see where they already live out care practices. We aimed to show how even complex ideas stem from simple foundations and principles.

Additionally, these workshops were performed digitally due to the pandemic; however, they can also be done in-person.

We hope this can be a helpful resource for anyone who wishes to host similar sessions.

Workshop 1:



Dreaming the next Year: Where Life Matters Life Matters 

Workshop Duration: 



Workshop Objectives: 

  • For youths to consider the intrinsic value of life via the symbol of the tree and reflect on what is needed for life to matter.

  • For students create unique characters to guide their narratives and imagining 


Summary of Tasks / Actions: 

  • Introduction: Check-in (20 mins) 

  • Name + how are you feeling today? (5-10m) 

  • Briefly Introducing the theme: Where Life Matters Life Matters 

  • Scavenger Hunt (5 mins) + (10 mins) discussion 

  • Find one item that is made from a tree 

  • Describe its connection: What part of the tree do you think it comes from? 

  • Expanded Discussion - The Tree: Where Life Matters Life Matters (15-30 min) 

  • Trees Prompts: 

  • Connect scavenger hunt to the theme of the tree and all the things it produces. Have students consider how we use tree by-products every day and how important they are to life 

  • Question: What do you think of when you see a tree? 

  • Question: Do you live near many trees? Near one? How do you relate to trees? 

  • Prompt: Connect trees to life by thinking about the various aspects of a tree that impact its health and wellness  

  • Think about what it needs: soil, light, water, nutrients etc. 

  • Imaginative exercise: Ask everyone to close their eyes as you walk through the different aspects of the tree (what do you see/smell/taste/feel) 

  • Get them to think about community/presenting as part of life  

  • Roots of a tree – structures/ideologies (ways of thinking) that are often invisible but very strong! 

  • Trunk – structures and institutions that support the tree (imagine climbing a tree, sitting on its branches etc.) 

  • Leaves/Flowers/Fruit - the daily interactions we have (think of how we experience this – eating/smelling/picking fruits, flowers, planting new plants etc.) 

  • Short Tutorial (for drawing software) 5-10 mins 

  • Tree creation on sketchpad] 

  • Task: Tree Drawing + Code name 

  • Ask Students: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? What would you look like? What environment would you be in (or thrive in)? 

  • Instructions: Using the sketchpad program, draw a tree that reflects you. What grows from your branches? Are there designs/colours in your bark/leaves?  

  • note: It does not have to fit the typical idea of a tree, i.e. green/brown

  • Show and Tell, last 10 min 


Materials / Equipment: 

The sample Graphic --> 




Workshop 2:



“The Rose that Grew from Concrete” 

Workshop Duration: 

1.5 -2h


Workshop Objectives: 

  • For youths to consider what it means to survive and thrive and what is necessary for our thriving. 

  • For youths to think about how we engage with challenges  

  • For youths to discuss the value of community for personal and collective growth and to engage in collaborative artmaking through words 



Summary of Tasks / Actions: 

  • Introduction: Check-in (20 mins) 

  • Opening Activities: (10 minutes)  

  • What colour do you feel like today? (15 minutes) 

  • Topic Discussion - “The Rose that Grew from Concrete” (25 minutes) 

    • Troupe leaders introduce and present the poem, ‘The Rose That Grew From The Concrete’ to the youth.

      • About: Written by Tupac Shakur, the poem reflects one’s ability to overcome even the greatest challenges—to survive in unexpected environments. Shakur uses symbolism and metaphor to depict how we blossom against the odds.

    • Ask the students to listen to the poem and think about feelings/words that come up. We will reflect on these words together in relation to the poem 


  • What does it mean to survive, and what does it mean to thrive? 

    • Thrive – to prosper of flourish, a condition beyond survival ( 

    • Surviving – continue to live or exist, especially despite danger or hardship (oxford) 

    • Is our rose thriving or surviving? What does it mean to do either?  

    • If we think of concrete, what comes to mind? What is it made of? What does it take to crack it open? 

  • Thinking about our community of trees

    • Trees and sprouts come together, communicate, provide nutrients to each other. However, some trees get more than others. All plants communicate. 

    • What does it mean when little trees do not survive? 

    • What does it mean for a plant to be out of its element if it was not in a forest? What does it mean to not be in a community? 

      • If you see a plant or a rose struggling, what would you do?  

        • Do you water it, leave it, or replant it somewhere else? (what does it mean to cultivate a sense of community outside of your natural or “normal’ environment. 


  • Break/Snack sharing time (10 minutes)


  • Activity Task: (collective poem, share screen?) (35 minutes) 

    • Explain that we are going to make a collaborative art piece. Ask youths to each share three words based on today’s themes survival, community, and thriving to form our WordArt. 

      • Ask students why they chose those words; what do those words mean to them? 


  • Show and Tell + Check Out (10 minutes)   

  • Closer: 1-minute scavenger hunt: Find something with a flower on it. (5 minutes) 


Materials / Equipment: 



Workshop 3:



Dreaming Better Futures

Workshop Duration: 



Workshop Objectives: 

  • To utilize lessons on community, mutual aid, love, and solidarity to imagine something beyond the present. 

  • To connect our theme of “Where Life Matters, Life Matters” with storytelling to express hopes and wishes for the future. 

  • To encourage youths to boldly imagine the world they want while reflecting on the world we have. 







Scavenger hunt idea: Time capsule; if you have to pick one item to give to your future self, what would it be? 

20 min 

Activity 1: 

Story Time Game: 


‘Tell a story about the future’ roundabout  

Prompt: Once Upon A Time in the Future... 

  • Each person adds one, two, or three words to the prompt, creating a short story.

  • Round 1 – One Word 

  • Round 2 – Two Words 

  • Round 3 – Three Rounds 



Opening Questions: 

  • What is the 'future'? What does it mean to dream better futures?

  • Troupe Leaders introduce activity for the day:

    • Today, we will read Shell Silverstein’s ‘The Giving Tree’ to think about relationships and futures.


Part One: Reading/Watching The Giving Tree

Watch The Giving Tree video (stop @ 0:59s for discussion) 

  • Ask at stopping point: What do you notice about the relationship between the tree and the main character? 


Continue the rest of The Giving Tree video. 


Part Two: Reimagining The Giving Tree 

Read the ADM/R&W Re-telling of The Giving Tree (written below). 

  • Break at “...And the kids grew older.” 

  • Break Question: Now that they have planted more trees, how do you think that might impact the story? What do you think the future of this special tree might be? 


Continue story.  


Part Three: Discussion

  • What do you notice are the similarities and differences between the first story and the second story? 

  • Which story do you prefer and why?

  • What do these stories tell us about how we relate to each other? What lessons can we take away?

  • What would you give back to your giving tree?

25 mins 


Break Time 

5 Min 

Activity 2:  

Art Prompt: Inspired by the Chicago Girl Talk Leadership Team’s Girl Talk Curriculum, we ask the youths to draw a leaf on paper and write down their dreams or changes they want to see for the future.


Show & Tell. 

15 mins 

Check Out: 

What colour do you feel like today?

5 min 


 Materials / Equipment: 

  Giving Tree Video:   

  Chicago Girl Talk Leadership Team’s Girl Talk Curriculum (v2) Activity

Materials: Pencils, markers, paper/pre-cut leaves.


References: Written by ADM/R&W Retelling: The Giving Tree 

Once there was a tree, and it loved a trio of friends. And every day, the three friends would run to the tree after school. They would run to the tree and play gardener.  


One child, Amara, had a watering can and would pour a little water on its roots. Another child, Zuri, had a small rake. With this rake, she would clean up the leaves on the ground and turn them into crowns for herself and her friends. And the third child, Isaiah, did not have any tools but would hug the tree.  


The tree loved the children, and the children loved the tree.   


The children would climb up its trunk and swing from its branches. When the children were hungry, the Special tree would say, “Here, eat the apples from my branches.” So they happily ate and planted. When the kids were tired, the tree would say, “Here, sleep under the shade of my leaves”. And when the branches were overgrown, the kids called their parents to give the tree a little trim.  


When Amara, Zuri, and Isaiah were sad or upset, the Special Tree would listen and tell them stories of the earth.


The tree loved the kids, and the kids loved the tree.


They were all very happy together. Time went by, and the kids grew older. They went to school, got jobs, and became adults. [Break – Ask Question] 


However, the tree was not alone. In the time that passed, the seeds the kids planted next to the special tree began to grow into beautiful apple trees, small maples, pines, and beautiful white birch trees. 


But the children grew up and could not take care of the trees in the garden. 

Soon the fruits began to fall from the trees. And the garden was overrun with rotten fruit.  


Then one day, the trio of friends—the children who grew into adults—returned. 


“What happened to you, Special tree?” they all asked, noticing all the fruit on the ground. 

“You grew up and stopped coming to visit me in the garden,” the tree explained. “I have missed you all so much. I love all the trees you planted, but I miss seeing your faces and getting those special tree hugs. I miss the energy of the community.” 


“You’re right Special Tree,” Amara exclaimed. 


“We thought you would be happier with some friends,” said Isaiah. 


“But you miss us, and we miss you,” said Zuri. 


“I have an idea!” said Amara. So together, the trio of friends began to plan a way for the tree to be happy again. First, they talked to their neighbours and then the local children. They talked to the butcher at the supermarket, the florist down the street, and the first graders at school.  


Then one day, everyone came together to surprise the Special tree. They all joined together in a beautiful celebration in the garden. They built benches and picnic tables under the shade of the magnificent maples and wonderous white birch trees.  


The Special tree was happy. The neighbours were happy. The children were happy. Amara, Zuri, and Isaiah were happy. The garden was whole again.  


Later, the trio of friends went on to have children of their own. Thankfully, the community still cared for the garden and the Special tree.


However, the Special tree missed the friendship of children. “I miss the sound of carefree laughter,” said the Special tree mournfully. “Please bring your children to play among my branches.” 


So, the trio surprised their children and the Special Tree. Within the branches of those marvellous maples and awesome apple trees, they built a beautiful treehouse fit for all the children in the community to play in.  


And the Special tree was happy. And the children were happy. And the community was happy. 

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