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  • Alice Tait

Kinder Exeter: Compassion Through Play - Opening Ceremony

June 14, 2021

To kick start the Kinder Festival, we opened with the virtual Opening Ceremony. Firstly, everyone shared an act of kindness they did this morning to reflect upon how they are looking after themselves, reminding us to always take care of ourselves. Olya and Maarten shared how Maketank began in 2019, founded from the idea that kindness and compassion are the most fundamental emotions and qualities of practice. The festival aims to centre these core values in every session, and inspire the audience to rethink how they treat themselves and others.

Olya and Maarten outlined the structure of the week, including a mixture of exciting virtual and in-person events, with lots of brilliant speakers getting involved. Over the course of the festival, Maarten noted how he hopes every event is experiential and effectively engages and inspires the audience. Saturday aims to be a one-of-a-kind experience, whereas Sunday will be a one-of-a-kind experiment, definitely not to be missed! Both Olya and Maarten hope that the audience will make lots of amazing memories during the festival.

The group then shared an item in their home which reminded them of compassion, including a hot water bottle, a memory bear, a tennis ball to help stretch, a bright yellow mug, and a watering can. Every item had an individual story and a strong sense of value to the owner. It was great to hear different audience members open up to the group and share a personal story.

To end the Ceremony, we played the Hula game, created by students at the University of Exeter. As part of the game, members of the audience were asked thought-provoking questions to share with the group. When asked how she thinks her perspective has changed since growing older, Johanna explained how she is less likely to censor herself and more willing to share her opinion. Anouska said if she was a superhero, her name would be Flower Girl and her superpower would enable her to grow flowers wherever she goes. Finally, Pippa shared her favourite childhood memory. She recalled how she would go to a local bank with her doll, Pedro, and toy dog, Sarah; she would sit there for hours and have conversations with her toys. Pippa noted how this was a truly magical space for her growing up. This game helped the group to connect and share insightful ideas and valuable memories.

On an ending note, Olya hoped that the Festival would inspire the city of Exeter to play some more and remember how crucial compassion and kindness are in our society. The week is shaping up to be an exciting festival, full of a diverse range of events everyone can get involved in!

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