Mark S. Konecky, Ph.D.
Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychology
6 Hodgkins Street
Gloucester, MA 01930
The JoJo Dolphin Enrichment Project:
Therapeutic Story Telling Intervention Proposal
Report on the Progress of The Therapeutic Story Telling Proposal
During the month of February, 2004, this intervention was piloted with a number of children in the 5th grade (ages 10-11) of an elementary school. The interventions went very well. Teachers and administrative staff who observed the interventions felt that students were “enthralled” with the program, especially the story of JoJo and Dean. Students were excited by the academic material and were fascinated by JoJo and his relationship with Dean. Students expressed great interest in and gratitude toward Dean for providing protection and care for JoJo. Several students asked about how humans could be so careless as to allow JoJo to be injured so severely. One student was particularly curious about the evolution of dolphins.
Aspects of the oral story and the DVD presentation that seemed to affect the children profoundly included JoJo’s physical injuries from boat strikes, Dean’s potential injury from the hammerhead shark attack and his actual scraped leg injury from that attack, and JoJo’s ability to heal from his injuries (physically and emotionally). The children actually made gasping sounds and exclamations of shock and empathy during the part of the DVD in which still photos are shown of JoJo’s injuries.
Children’s ability to be affected so profoundly by JoJo’s physical injuries stirred me to reflect on the idea that the particular empathy children are able to feel for a creature not fully able to defend himself against threats in his environment may relate to their own awareness of their vulnerabilities as children in a potentially threatening world. Perhaps the story telling intervention would help children identify with JoJo’s power to heal and to lead an active life in an imperfect world.
In addition, while thinking about the children’s ability to empathize
with JoJo when he was injured and when he healed from his injuries, I reflected
that children suffering from cancer and other physical illnesses such as burns
in which painful procedures and scaring may occur might benefit from identifying
with JoJo’s ability to come through and heal from his injuries.
During the remainder of the 2004 school year, elementary, middle school, and high school students will be provided with opportunities to participate in the JoJo and Dean therapeutic story telling intervention. Administrative and academic staff hope that students will benefit from the program in the ways noted above, and also hope that the program will increase the ability and likelihood of students helping each other while decreasing the likelihood of students intimidating or bullying other students.
My goal is to use the experiences generated by these programs to launch a grant proposal in which we will attempt to bring the JoJo and Dean story into as many pediatric medical settings as possible. I would like to request grant funding to train front-line staff (such as nurses) to present the JoJo and Dean Therapeutic Story Telling Intervention to children on medical units. Children with cancer, other life-threatening illnesses, and burns seem to be populations that might receive particular benefit from this program.
Currently, I am looking for a grant writer and other professionals to help me with this project. Anyone who might like to help or who might know of appropriate funding sources from whom to request resources for this project should contact me, Dr. Mark S. Konecky, through the JoJo web site. Thank you.