Ana – Honing Leadership Skills

June 22, 2022
Ana smiling

This month’s Participant Spotlight is on Popcorn Chat participant, Ana, who is always willing to eagerly engage in each class with joy and zeal. As the Popcorn Chat teacher, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Ana’s genuine enthusiasm and natural leadership abilities help create connections and bonds with her fellow participants. “I feel like I have (made friends in Popcorn Chat),” Ana said.

Hear what Ana has to say about the Popcorn Chat program


Ana participated in Popcorn Chat last spring and is excited to be back for the summer session. She first learned about the class from another participant who is a friend. During that time, she has worked on honing her skills at interacting with others in a virtual environment, learning more about herself, how to cope with stressors, and calming techniques. When I asked her if she feels more confident now connecting with others via Zoom, she enthusiastically answered, “Yes, I do!” That confidence has been increasingly evident as Ana has progressed through the program. In addition to independently interacting with others, I’ve also overserved her troubleshooting technology issues on her own and helping others do so.

Ana smiling while holding her catAna enjoys being social, hanging out with friends, singing, dancing, and playing with her cat. She lists being a good friend as one of her top strengths. “I am good at helping my friends and being inclusive, inviting them to things, (and) talking to them on the phone,” she said. “I have my own social group. I set up social activities. I am a good leader.”

Ana and her friends posing like "Charlie's Angels"Ana proudly shared that she has fantastic organizational skills and a great memory, which benefits those around her. “I am my mom’s personal assistant,” she said. These strengths are evident during Popcorn Chat as well. Ana is helpful in reminding us if we forget to do anything on the agenda, and is an excellent timekeeper. She does a fantastic job leading games and making sure everyone receives an equal amount of turns. Her experience in Popcorn Chat has given her additional opportunities to build on these strengths.

Ana shared that her favorite activity during Popcorn Chat is movement time, when participants engage in activities that encourage stretching, exercising, and other types of movement. Another popular Popcorn Chat activity is being a co-host. Participants learn how to host a class via Zoom, navigating introductions, sharing their personal interests and hobbies, engaging with other participants, and more. Ana shared that she feels that her leadership skills have improved during the class. “I learned that I can be the co-host in popcorn chat!” she smiled.

Ana dressed in 1950s attire, smiling.Ana found it difficult to connect with others during the pandemic. “It made it difficult for me to go into the community,” she said. She did however, find ways to interact with others. She volunteered at her grandparents’ church, reading books to children in a special education class. She even created PowerPoint slides for the class, allowing the students to ask follow-up questions. She enjoyed working with the students and would like to work with children who have autism in the future.

Ana standing with friend in front of "2021" balloonsLast year, Ana graduated from her transition program and hopes to begin vocational training soon. She has many interests and dream jobs, including being a background dancer for The Wiggles and being a TV news anchor. In the meantime, she will be working with a trainer to help build her independent living skills.

When I asked Ana what one thing she wished people knew about Sunflower Hill’s Popcorn Chat, she exclaimed, “that Sunflower Hill is fun!” I feel that Ana’s enthusiasm, inclusive nature, and willingness to help others will lead her to a bright future that is filled with possibilities.


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Story by: Molly Morse, Sunflower Hill Garden and Popcorn Chat Program Instructor
Contributing Writer: Rachel Clark, Sunflower Hill Communications Manager

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