Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

Enneagram Bracelets: Art and Mental Health Unite for a Project in Identity

Enneagram Bracelets: Art and Mental Health Unite for a Project in Identity

Co-curricular work has been a mainstay in GFA’s Middle School for years. With an exciting new project, art and mental health united for a project in identity. In November, Middle School Counselor Jackie Woods and Visual Arts teacher Julia Byrne combined art and self awareness in an engaging project. The project introduced the eighth grade to the Enneagram Test, an evidence based personality test that breaks human personality traits into nine different categories.

“I noticed in eighth grade especially, kids are really starting to form their sense of self and their own sense of identity,” said Woods. “What’s great about the Enneagram test is that you can solicit strengths and weaknesses and the different components of yourself that you need to grow.” 

Woods says that growth mindset is something that GFA really emphasizes in Middle School. The Enneagram test seemed the perfect conduit for channeling that self-awareness and growth, and with creativity in mind, it was an engaging project that helped the eighth graders get to know themselves and their classmates better.

When it came down to incorporating the art portion of the project, Woods was inspired by seeing the wrists and water bottles of Middle Schoolers around GFA. Several students love friendship bracelets, whether it’s exchanging them or fidgeting in class, so Woods thought it an awesome exercise to combine the test and bracelets. 

While taking the test, Woods and Byrne made sure that students were aware that this is not a diagnosis and shouldn’t be taken as absolute. After a conversation about each personality type, students took the test & were given their results. 

From there, each personality type received a different color designation, and the bracelet making commenced. 

“A lot of the kids had done it before so they jumped ahead to make more intricate bracelets, but it was really fun seeing the kids who had never done it before go through the process of learning how.” said Byrne, noting that though it can be frustrating at first getting over the hurdle of learning how to do something, finally getting it is rewarding. 

With a printed page for each personality type, students learned more about their results and were encouraged to come up with a goal-oriented intention for themselves while they were making the bracelet. Woods says the purpose of this exercise would hopefully carry on past the conclusion of the project, reminding students of their intentions when wearing the bracelet. 

Woods says there's this assumption that mental health means “Oh there’s something wrong with me,” versus it just being a part of someone and a part that they can accept. With this project, Woods hopes the eighth graders can apply this exercise to other areas of their lives

“Developmentally, it’s a really great time for eighth graders to explore that sense of self and individual identity. They’re launching into what academics they’re really into, they’re getting into their eighth grade speech where they get up and talk about a part of themselves, so it’s a nice pairing to that,” Woods said. 

Throughout this exercise, Woods and Byrne say the students were hungry for information, and beyond curious to take the test and learn more about themselves in a way that was evidence based. 

“Learning about this can help you self reflect and think about who you are as a person, your strengths and weaknesses. I think it was really nice for the kids and myself to learn about that,” said Byrne.