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The Metaphor of Butterflies

July 10, 2014

Chrysalides 06202014 Brightleaf

During the summer, the patients at Veritas Collaborative enjoy watching the metamorphosis of caterpillars to butterflies.  These furry little creatures go through a great deal of change in two short weeks, similar to the remarkable changes our patients make during their recovery process here at Veritas.

I am the teacher around here and am honored to serve the young women and young men who enter our doors for treatment.  During the school year, I am tasked with coordinating the instruction of our patients, who range from ages 10-19.  The patients are able to maintain progress in their coursework from their schools at home with my help, and with the assistance of local university tutors.  However, during the summer months, when most patients have completed their academics for the school year, we get to have a bit of fun in science and art.

The highlight of the summer is our metamorphosis unit, when we dig deeper to learn about this dramatic change the insects go through, observe them closely, and paint our own butterflies in the classroom. First, small cups of tiny, furry caterpillars enter the facility.  We watch the 18 caterpillars eat, getting bigger and stronger each day.  They then climb to the top of the cups and form tough shells with golden armor. We move these chrysalides to larger butterfly houses and within a week, watch them emerge as beautiful bright creatures. They spend a few days surrounded by flowers, enjoying watermelon the patients feed them. Then, we release them outside.

Butterflies on Brightleaf 06272014

The patients at Veritas Collaborative are similarly going through a process as they learn to eat for strength and energy, be still and mindful, and allow meaningful changes to happen to their minds and bodies on the path to recovery.  The butterflies are a beautiful metaphor for this journey, and I feel honored to be able to walk alongside our patients for a small part of their journey.

Mindy Elliott

Hospital Teacher, Durham Public Schools