ASI Children's Programs

Children Explore Thoughts Surrounding Free Speech in a “Words Matter” Display


“Be nice,” “Don’t fight over people’s choices,” and “Skin can be different colors” are just a few of the statements that can be found on a free speech wall called “Words Matter,” created by children ages 4 to 6 from the Orfalea Family & ASI Children’s Center.

In light of the recent events on campus, the children decided to create their own wall to communicate their feelings around free speech. Head Teacher Emily VanderZwaag hopes to use this opportunity to connect the children to the campus community and teach them about free speech.

“Diversity, acceptance, and kindness are qualities we can all support, so how do we promote these qualities and connect the children to the larger campus community? How do we empower them to know that their words matter?” VanderZwaag said.

The center provides a learning environment where children are encouraged to explore ideas and interests through their daily project work. “One of our fundamental pieces of work is social and emotional competency. That involves seeing things from another perspective, having a positive self-image, and relating well with peers,” ASI Director of Children’s Programs Tonya Iversen said. “College students can learn a lot from the children. Every day they focus on getting along and taking care of each other. They’re living the Mustang Way without even knowing it.”

The wall will be displayed on the second floor of the Julian A. McPhee University Union from Nov. 8 through Nov. 30.