Not every book on helping children heal deep emotional wounds can speak to both parents and professionals, but The Imagine Project does so, and wonderfully.
Dianne Maroney is a psychiatric and mental health nurse whose nonprofit organization Imagine Project works with children, teens and adults to overcome challenging circumstances through expressive writing. She’s been there herself: At 15, she found her mother after she had committed suicide. Her daughter was born prematurely with multiple health problems early on. “I honestly believe because I have seen, heard, felt, witnessed, and lived it – there isn’t anything that can’t be undone and healed with a lot of love, the right resources, and some work,” she writes.
Each chapter begins with an “Imagine Story” and ends with “Tips for Teachers.” The book is divided into five sections: emotional wellness, healing through expressive writing, mind/body/spirit healing suggestions, recommendations for those who need professional help, and more Imagine Stories.
These stories, by current or former students, take readers on a journey from tough, sometimes unthinkable, experiences to healthy resolutions, either real or imagined. In one, a man who at age 6 saw his baby brother get shot and subsequently suffered a mental breakdown goes on to create a new life for himself. In another, a fifth-grade girl moves from being bullied to telling the teacher to letting go of the traumatic memories. We aren’t told if these endings are true, but even if the happy ending is only imagined, it can give a child a glimpse of a future without emotional pain.
Although this well-written book touts Maroney’s writing program, it avoids overt sales pitches while offering practical, compassionate guidance and step-by-step instructions on using the journaling process. “Ultimately,” Maroney writes, “The Imagine Project is about teaching students they don’t have to be held back by the negative stories in their lives.” In a broader sense, she gives all readers the gift of a gentle but profound reminder: Neither do we.
Also available as an ebook.