OXYGEN evolved from a personal experience while visiting Paris during the Friday the 13th attacks in November 2015. As I helped my family navigate difficult conversations with my young nieces about the attacks and security lock-downs that directly affected their community, I witnessed adults struggling with their own responses, which in turn impacted the socio-emotional responses of the children in their care. Having lived in New York City during the 9/11 attacks and through my work and research in human rights and social justice education, I empathize with the struggle faced by many parents and educators trying to make sense of “senseless violence” for not only themselves, but also their children and students.
While discussing plans with UNSILENCE Founder Danny M. Cohen for an interactive and scenario-based resource to aid adults in navigating this difficult landscape, I connected with the idea of an airplane oxygen mask and the instructions we receive every time we fly: to secure your own mask before assisting those around you. We can only truly help and care for those around us once we’ve secured our own physical, and emotional safety.