Started in 2008 as the "Family Fun Series" to help build and strengthen a community of families, Advocate Lab currently hosts "The 4 Things" Family Strength Series every spring.  Born out of a mantra that Founder, Genese Clark, was taught as a child, "Put God First, Think for Yourself, Stick Together, and Never Give Up," this series highlights family strengths (Appreciation and Affection, Commitment, Enjoyable Time Together, Positive Communication, Spiritual Wellbeing, the Ability to Manage Stress and Crisis Effectively, and Leadership) according to the Family Strengths Model utilizing creativity and fun.  Though the activities are typically geared toward families with elementary age children, this series can be customized to accommodate any age group and level of development.  Each activity follows a tenant in "The 4 Things" mantra.


This year, the series took place in a vacant lot within a New Haven Promise Zone to demonstrate the creative possibilities that lie within the space.  Past activities have included a Create With God session, tinker time, unity web, and mural.


Create With God: This event ignites the imagination through the leading of the Holy Spirit (the presence of God).  Through presence-based art, individuals ask God to activate their creativity to a greater measure.  This event is not about how well one can draw, paint, or write, but rather, about how well we learn to listen and follow God through the process of creating.  While sitting outside, participants listen to recorded or live music as they empty their minds of their own thoughts.  This activity is designed to counteract the fast pace of life, slow down individuals, and reconnect them with the Spirit around them.  Researchers have found that connection to nature could satisfy a human's need for social connection and contribute to personal well being, and increase mindfulness.  This activity also encourages community by creating a platform for children and adults to share their artistic voice in a non-judgmental and competition-free environment.  Create With God highlights Spiritual wellbeing, Time together, Positive communication, and Appreciation and affection.

Tinker Time: Using recycled material, families put on their thinking caps to compete in a creativity challenge.  Participants hammer, cut, staple, glue, and bend material to satisfy (and exceed) the challenge request.  Winners are determined by the participants' applause.  A past year's challenge was to "make something that could transform into something else."  A water bottle dispenser airplane and a 2-in-1 instrument and catch game were among the most popular creations.  Tinker Time highlights the Ability to Manage Stress and Crisis, Leadership, Positive communication, and Time Together.

Unity Web: Families celebrate their similarities and honor each other's differences by creating a giant-sized yarn web.  Family members answer a brief questionnaire to be used in the creation of their web.  The web becomes more colorful and fuller as each person winds their yarn around the points assigned to each statement.  The giant web is a reminder of the uniqueness of our human family, and also encourages the use of the questionnaire to continue conversations after the activity is complete.  The Unity Web activity highlights Positive communication, Time together, Appreciation and affection, and Commitment.

Family Mural: This year's theme was resiliency.  Youth artist, Madison Jones, led the mural project for the second year in a row. Madison skillfully designed the mural leaving spaces for families to contribute.  Individuals added symbols of resiliency to the mural, as well as, created decorative tiles to be displayed in the transformed community greenspace.  This activity highlights all of the universal family strengths.

Check back soon for the 2019 Family Strength Series dates!

Interested in holding the Family Strength Series in your neighborhood?  Email Genese at for more information.


Information on Advocate Lab's site was developed with oversight from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, College of Education and Human Sciences (CYAF/IFS).


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