ENCHANTED PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO SELF-ESTEEM MOVEMENT
SWEEPING ACROSS METRO DETROIT
Local Enchanted Ambassadors Encouraged to ‘Pay it Forward’
In the wake of increasingly harmful bullying incidents across the U.S., two local women are looking to change the discourse here in Metro Detroit and are starting with the most impressionable demographic: Tween-agers (those ages 9-14)…. with the intention of spreading to children of all ages. Photographer Marla Michele Must, of Enchanted Photography in Birmingham has joined forces with Karen T. Davis, Psychotherapist, creating a ‘Movement,’ aptly titled “Random Acts of Enchantment,” with the goal of creating a Tween Revolution in Metro Detroit by instilling self-esteem, emotional intelligence, and the power of positivity in Metro Detroit Schools.
The premise behind “Random Acts of Enchantment” is to empower children through Photography by spreading empathy, compassion, and kindness and to circumvent the bullying epidemic. Tweens can sign up on Instagram at @EnchantedPhotographyMichigan. Winners are chosen by random drawings and invited, along with up to 12 friends, to a complimentary photo session with Must. In turn, the Tweens must pledge to ‘Pay it Forward’ by ‘Randomly Enchanting’ an unsuspecting student at school with an act of kindness, and then encouraging that person to also pay it forward. Must explains “kindness is the currency for the portrait session.”
Must believes that encouraging self-esteem, inclusiveness and kindness among our youth is vital and Enchanted Photography follows these principles. The photo experience is aimed at empowering and confidence-building and allows participants to shine individually as well as within a group. Must states her goals are “to circumvent the bullying epidemic in our schools; to make a profound difference with my camera; to heal my own wounds through my art; to bring awareness; to empower our youth; to plant seeds of empowerment, and to inspire.”
Must’s desire to create this project and empower others is deeply personal. “Bullying comes in many forms…from peers, co-workers, and family. My own experience of being bullied in each of these arenas has compelled me to make a difference by empowering children to have a voice and emotional intelligence.” Children are often bullied by their own siblings; and Must will be offering “Sibling Sessions” soon as another avenue for children to learn the value of kindness and compassion.
Karen T. Davis, a seasoned Psychotherapist in Bloomfield Hills, is working with Must on the “Random Acts of Enchantment” project and offers insight into the self-esteem issues affecting children today that can lead to bullying. “Childhood is a time of intense self-evaluation and social comparison. Kids face tremendous pressures and often, as a result, their self-evaluations are negative, leading to low self-esteem and self-worth. The feeling of self-esteem is a by-product of doing well and then fuels further success. Marla and I both see the enormous value in implementing strategies that foster both self-esteem and teach self-compassion. The Enchanted Movement is so valuable because the experiences the kids are having are real, genuine experiences as opposed to contrived exercises. This is what will lead to real, sustained change.”
Must and Davis have decided to begin with a focus on Tweens ages 9-14 in order to change an epidemic that is sweeping the nation, but aim to involve younger children in the movement as well. 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school, 20% of U.S. students in grades 9-12 reportedly have experienced bullying or are feeling bullied, while 28% of students in grades 6-12 report the same. Most experts agree that bullying peaks in middle school, while children are making the transition from children to young adults. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) anti-bullying website, Stopbullying.gov, bullying is defined as “intentionally aggressive, usually repeated” verbal, social, or physical behavior aimed at a specific person or group of people. Some bullying actions are considered criminal, such as harassment or hazing; but “bullying” alone is not illegal. And recent news stories abound with tales of cyberbullying – where the target is harassed through social media or other technology – that have resulted in victims’ suicides. The majority of bullying still takes place at school. Source: http://nobullying.com/bullying-statistics-2014.
According to Must, “My images illuminate both inner and outer beauty, allowing the kids to rediscover themselves in a brand new light and it is profoundly healing.” The Tween representatives/recipients of the photo sessions must commit to following up with @EnchantedPhotographyMichigan and www.RandomActsOfEnchantment.com and reporting what they did to ‘Randomly Enchant’ someone on an ongoing basis with the hash tag #RandomActOfEnchantment. The ripple effect of kindness is then set in motion.
The “Random Acts of Enchantment” movement, still in the early stages, began in February, 2015 and has created much buzz across Metro Detroit. Demand is high, and Must has already worked with students in Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, West Bloomfield, Rochester and Huntington Woods. Camie Brown, 6th Grade Student from West Bloomfield and Enchanted Ambassador, writes of her experience with Must, “You have inspired me so much and I love all of the pictures you took of me!! I will cherish these photos forever! My first random act of enchantment was when we had a really big snowstorm and snow day and I shoveled the walk way for my parents without them asking me. Another random act of enchantment that I have been doing for many, many years is very important to me I make people laugh and smile. It is my job to cheer people up when they are feeling down!! Another random act of enchantment is every Saturday I apprentice at my dance at studio and help the little girls learn how to dance. They always are looking up to me. I brought them gifts because they have been doing amazing and I thought that they would enjoy a little treat. I do this on my very own free time I am so happy that I got a chance to do this. This photo shoot has been a really big impact on me!! Thank you so much Marla!!! You made me blossom even more than I was before!!! When you took the pictures I felt like a movie star and I have never felt that way before.''
Alexandra G, student from Rochester Hills, details her experience of the impact she’s having as an ‘Enchanted Ambassador.’ “The other day at school, a group of 8th graders were standing in the lobby waiting to go into school. I'm a 7th grader and I usually don't stand up for anyone that's older than me, but this time I had to help. A boy with disabilities was getting teased by the 8th grade group of boys. They were pretending to be his friend and they were all laughing when the boy with disabilities smiled at them and played along with their act. I felt so bad for the boy because he didn't know what was going on. He thought they were his friends. I walked over, took my headphones out of my ears, and stood up for the boy. I told the 8th graders to leave him alone because everyone deserves to have good friends and they were definitely not good friends. They weren't even friends. That's my story of enchantment.”
Rave reviews have come from several parents of the Tweens. Erika Houser of Rochester Hills writes ''A HUGE thank you to Marla for putting this together for our girls!! What an amazing opportunity for these young ladies to shine and support one another! This is such an important time in their lives…build confidence and have fun doing it in a positive fun way. A simple act of compassion goes such a long way in someone’s life. Together we can all be part of the solution and not the problem!” Houser continues, ''My daughter Julia and her girlfriends are fortunate to be part of an amazing Tween movement. They have pledged to randomly enchant others on a daily basis. They continue to work on random acts of kindness, empathy, and paying it forward.''
Marisa Kalmus, 4th grade teacher at Hamlin Elementary School in Rochester, had her entire class participate in a “Random Acts of Enchantment” photo session and they were the 1st ‘Enchanted Elementary Representatives!’ “When I heard about the wonderful things Enchanted Photography is doing, it got me to thinking about my own students. My 4th graders are a unique mixture of intelligence, silliness, creativity, and kindness. They make our classroom and school a better place every single day. If the world were filled with people like them making the “big” decisions, I have to think that it would be a much happier, more peaceful place,” stated Kalmus.
Kalmus has incorporated lessons learned from the experience into her classroom. In exchange for having their photographs taken, the children were tasked with spreading enchantment, or kindness, throughout the school. According to Kalmus, “We thought it would be an amazing opportunity to catch the beauty in our class and help the kids remember to spread their kindness every day!”
Several Metro Detroit businesses see the value and are jumping on board the ‘Random Acts of Enchantment Movement’ and want to get involved. Clothing stores bec & sam’s and Pogo Detroit, both located in Birmingham, have let Enchanted Ambassadors pick out clothing to wear for some of the photo shoots. A simple act of kindness goes such a long way in someone's life. Together we can all be part of the solution and not the problem!''Must usually holds the photo sessions outdoors because she finds that nature and fresh air provide a therapeutic environment where those being photographed can relax and open up to her in ways they cannot with others, enabling her to capture the true essence of her subjects and instill positive self-esteem by highlighting their inner and outer beauty.
The ‘Random Acts of Enchantment’ Movement is creating positive change across Metro Detroit. Must and Davis are planning to take it to Chicago later this summer and would love to see its principles implemented across the United States and beyond. “We see bullying as a symptom of a larger problem – a lack of empathy and self-esteem. It is our hope that we can combat this epidemic with the ‘Random Acts of Enchantment’ movement.” They continue, “We see this movement only growing larger. Our hope is that it is practiced worldwide, impacting adults and children alike. The potential is limitless!”
Must opened her studio Enchanted Photography in 2011 in downtown Birmingham where she focuses on families, children, siblings, Tweens, Empowered Portrait Sessions, and promoting Random Acts Of Enchantment. Enchanted Photography has been voted the ‘Best of the Best in Michigan’ in 2013 & 2014 by the Detroit Jewish News.
Marla Michele Must - Enchanted Photography is located at:
423 West Frank Street, Birmingham, MI 48009 Phone - 248-910-0555.
For more information, visit her websites:
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/EnchantedByMarlaMichele
Or her Blog: www.MustLiveALifeLessOrdinary.com
Karen T. Davis, M.A., M.P.A, L.L.P. is a psychotherapist specializing in individual, couples and family therapy and maintains a private practice in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. With almost 20 years experience as a psychotherapist for adults and adolescents, she is currently serving as private practitioner working with a broad spectrum of clients. Among her areas of expertise are self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and addiction.
Karen Davis’ office is located at:
36400 Woodward Avenue, Suite 225, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304.
For more information on Karen, visit her website at http://www.karentdavis.com.
She can be reached by phone at 248-210-8100 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For PR inquiries contact: Julie Marx