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Opening Communication Within Our Families and Communities

Starting on Sunday, February 20 at 12:45pm is the first session of the Open-Hearted Family series, led by author Gina Simm and Katelyn Dutkiewicz, PA-C. The series is based on Simm’s book Heart to Heart and helps parents, caregivers and educators find more effective ways to reach out to and connect with children, especially when times are uncertain and scary for them. Gina took some time to answer a few questions about the series for us!


Gina Simm


AFP: What can students taking the Open-Hearted Family series expect to take away with them?

Gina: Hopefully, they will take away a deep understanding of how to “be there” when our children are in distress. We tend to think that our job as care-givers is to provide a solution but more often than not showing that we are interested in what it’s like to be in that distress will provide more peace of mind. With that deep understanding comes many tools to take away from the series.

AFP: You mention on your website that you share information that will help children have an open heart in a “world that’s constantly telling them otherwise”—what do you mean by that?

Gina: Unfortunately, our world tells us that we need to protect our hearts which creates a sense of fear and mistrust. So, for example, when our children see our anxious faces because we are running late and hear our angry voices when we are driving, we are modeling for them how to be in this world. Also the whole tendency to blame contributes to a closed heart. So, when our children blame us, we need not be surprised. The good news is that there are alternatives!

AFP: Who is a good fit for the Open Hearted Family Series? 

Gina: Parents, of course, but also anyone working with young children: teachers, guidance counselors, grandparents, school librarians, therapists, baby-sitters, camp counselors, etc. 

AFP: What is an Empathy session?

 Gina: An empathy session is a formal venue for listening to someone’s feelings (from a deck of cards) and then guessing that person’s needs (from a deck of cards). It’s a tool for the outcome of being heard.

AFP: Is there anything you want to share with us about the upcoming Open Hearted Family series starting on February 20?

Gina: I’m very excited about the expectation I have of connecting with folks who find my offerings compelling. I want to help the world by keeping all the children of the world open-hearted – in order to grow into open-hearted adults – so the problems of the world will be solved with open hearts!

AFP: Thank you, Gina!


Gina let us know that attending with children could be distracting. Her series is not set up for the engagement of young children even though it is for their ultimate benefit. For more information and details on how to register, email

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