While many were celebrating love on Valentine's Day, the Frick Environmental Center welcomed the traveling XOXO exhibit from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh into our living room space. The goal of XOXO: An Exhibit about Love & Forgiveness is to create a space for park visitors to explore their feelings through activities that encourage meaningful conversations about love and forgiveness.
Nature can be a place for slowing down and accessing deep emotions that we may not normally allow ourselves time to experience. Being in nature often elicits feelings of calmness and peacefulness and lets us deal with more turbulent emotions. It can even provide a break from negative situations, to build resiliency.
Given these positive, healing benefits, coupling XOXO with one of Pittsburgh’s largest green spaces lends itself towards personal wellness and diving deep to explore our own emotions in a space of calm beauty.
The XOXO exhibit provides activities and prompts that facilitate emotional well-being. The “wall of kindness” encourages community members to share how someone has been kind to them on a post-it note. Is there something you are worried about? The “write and shred” station encourages visitors to write or draw something that makes them scared or angry on a piece of colored paper, then use a hand crank to shred the paper to pieces and help release those feelings. The shredded paper can be placed in jars to create a collaborative art piece to make something beautiful out of negative emotions.
At the love letter writing station, take a moment to write a love note to a person, place, or thing. Write it to someone you miss, to your local Pittsburgh park, or to an animal you saw while taking a walk on the trails!
Writing not your thing? You can use the XOXO photo booth to take a fun picture to send to someone. Add a message to tell someone you miss them or extend a thank you, or just take a picture and post to social media with the tag #XOXOproject to tell us how much you love the parks! Visitors to the Frick Environmental Center are encouraged to explore their emotions by interacting with the exhibit components from now through April.
If you would like a guided experience, you're invited to join naturalist educators for Nature XOXO, a free event on March 31 (click here for details and registration). At the event, we'll explore how nature in Frick Park can be used to promote emotional health. Turn your worries into seed balls that will grow into new meadow plants, take a fun and reflective hike in the park, and then take a moment to write (or draw) a love letter to nature.
XOXO: A Project about Love & Forgiveness has been made possible in part with support from The Grable Foundation and the Children’s Museum’s New Ideas Fund.