About Us

Our Story

What is it?

Inspired by the poetry of Langston Hughes and the tradition of Nepalese Buddhist prayer flags, The Dream Flag Project® is an annual poetry/art/community-connection project for students in Kindergarten to twelfth grade. Since we started it in the spring of 2003, the project has spread to more than one hundred schools in Pennsylvania and beyond—from Portland to Palm Beach. And it’s still spreading. To date, more than 100,000 Dream Flags have been created by students in 42 states of the U.S. and by students in 27 other countries including Canada, Australia, Honduras, China, Japan, Costa Rica, Nepal, Rwanda, Kenya, and South Africa.

To participate in the project, teachers register on this web site. There is no fee. Students first read poetry of Langston Hughes, particularly his dream poems. Then they create their own dream poems and transfer them onto pieces of 8 ½ by 11 in. cloth. They decorate the cloth in all sorts of ways, and finally attach the Dream Flags to a line—just like the prayer flags. The result is a visual line of color and hope that gets displayed in the school or in other public places.

Our kick-off on is on February 1, the birthday of Langston Hughes. Culmination activities are in April, National Poetry Month. Dream Flag Lines are completed by the first week in April. The project can take anywhere from 90 minutes to 9 weeks to complete, depending on what a teacher wants to do with it.

Students connect their Dream Flag Lines and their hopes in schools, at regional events, and on this web site. At a culminating regional poetry festival, the Dream Flag Project Celebration, students and schools share their poems and connect thousands of Dream Flags. This has been held at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Area schools send representative poets, and all schools are invited to send poems to be read and flags to be displayed. Connecting the dreams is what it’s all about.

After the Dream Flag Project Celebration, Dream Flags are exhibited where they will spread their messages of hope. This has included area hospitals, libraries, and a baseball stadium. Flags are returned to the schools in May after the exhibitions.

How did it start?

The Dream Flag Project® began in 2003 in sixth grade English classes at The Agnes Irwin School, a K-12 school for girls in suburban Philadelphia. Students studied the dream poetry of Langston Hughes and then wrote their own dream poems. They printed them on cloth, decorated them with art, and connected them all to clotheslines—Dream Flag Lines. Modeled after Nepalese Prayer flags, the Dream Flags were meant to share positive hopes with the world.

The next year, other schools were invited to join in. Teachers in twenty-six schools joined the project. The next year even more schools joined in. After teachers register for the project, they get regular email support that shares ideas and information that each school discovers along the way. The web site is also an ongoing collection of resources and idea that teachers share as well as a publication space for student poems and Dream Flags. Create and Connect sections have classroom resources for teachers. Share section has pictures, video, and text of student work as well as students participating in the project. News section has specific dates for the current year and a project news archive.

Who runs The Dream Flag Project®?

The project is run largely by volunteers. At the Agnes Irwin School, Sixth grade English teachers Jeff Harlan and Sandy Crow co-founded the Project in 2003. The Project has a Board of Advisors to help guide its growth.  With help from others, Jeff Harlan, its Director, coordinates the project, provides email contact between teachers, and maintains this web site. Many teachers from The Agnes Irwin School and some other schools have also volunteered time to help run the Dream Flag Project Celebration in Philadelphia. Countless other individuals have contributed in one way or another—helping exhibit flags, providing music for The Dream Flag Project celebration, providing space for our readings, creating stage sets, videotaping, etc. Each participant teacher makes the most important contribution by working with students to produce and connect each Dream Flag.

Volunteers are always needed and welcome. Just contact Jeff Harlan. jharlan@agnesirwin.org

The Agnes Irwin School has been the host school for the project since its inception and provides both resources and staffing to help the project continue to serve students.

As a result of collabortive work between The Dream Flag Project's Board of Advisors, Trustees of The Agnes Irwin Schoo, and Dream Flag Project's Director, Cloud Coth Education, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity in Pennsylvania, was formed to broaden the reach of The Dream Flag Project and deepen its program impact. 

You may dowload a one-page summary of the Project's history, vision, and current direction HERE

 

 

Student Dream Poems

Samples of students reading their Dream Flag poems at the annual Philadelphia Dream Flag Celebration.

"What a powerful experience of joining the self with the rest of the world."

Middle School Teacher, '04

"The Dream Flag Project® gave us an opportunity to look inside ourselves to discover what is most important to each of us."

Second Grade Teacher, '04