When Kate Savage met POPS co-founders Amy Friedman and Dennis Danziger, they were years away from launching their first POPS club, but a friendship quickly developed. An accomplished visual artist , Kate had already been teaching art to teens for the years as her mindfulness practice and training began to grow. In 2017, when POPS decided to incorporate mindfulness lessons more into POPS clubs, Kate, in collaboration with Sonia Faye, created POPS’s “self-empowerment” curriculum. In 2018 she founded Open Window Mindfulness and this year, and with the support of Insight, she will expand and deepen the mindfulness training and curriculum for POPS volunteers.
One of Kate’s first visits to the POPS club meeting was especially memorable. The meeting was being held at Venice High, and lunch had yet to be served. The club’s student president had not yet called the meeting to order. Members of the Ammunition Theater Company were there to lead performance and writing exercises with POPS club members. Junior Daniel Ortiz was about to stand up in front of the room to read his poetry for the first time. Kate could not imagine how all these things-lunch, performance, teaching, support-could happen within the confines of a mere 32-minute meeting. But as Daniel read, she watched and listened. She says she could see his confidence in his work deepen as the Ammunition performers coached him, and his fellow club members leaned in and showed him their close attention and support. “Daniel came alive,” Savage says,
These days Kate is a weekly volunteer at Culver City High POPS Club, and the surprises have not ceased for her. She has seen moments of strength and vulnerability, crisis and healing. “The need for POPS is so huge,” Savage says, hoping for expansion with “more kids, in more schools.” Until then, she continues the intricate work of nurturing creativity and mindfulness with the POPS members at Culver, and this semester, she looks forward to the opportunity to visit each of the clubs to do a mindfulness lessons. Kate knows that many aspects of this growth will continue to develop long after the students leave the classrooms, as they build their own practices of lifelong resilience.