Every day as a high school paraeducator, I am granted front row, all-access admission into the lives of our youth. Many, if not most, are in need. Initially, I thought just a little extra attention would suffice, you know, a kind word here or there, an extra snack after school, maybe a hug or two. However, I soon learned that the hardships students face are far more pervasive and the wounds–abandonment, abuse, mistrust, anger, guilt, and shame–too deep for the superficial “bandages” we often use to fix things.
Our children are hungry, and not just in the literal sense, albeit sadly the case for many. Students are longing for something, whether it’s the capacity to understand the world around them and why it isn’t always fair. Others still are searching for the coping skills to endure all of the obstacles that life throws at them. They are in pursuit of the answers to life’s questions, many of which evade even adult minds. Often, there is no right or wrong answer; kids just need to know that someone will be there when they call.
Maybe you aren’t a teacher, but there are most certainly tons of opportunities to share your infinite wisdom and mentor a child. Perhaps you can’t afford to feed a hungry student, but there’s nothing stopping you from organizing a food drive that can. Okay, so it’s not your child who’s misbehaving, but what’s stopping you from taking full advantage of a teachable moment?
The children are our future. That’s not just some adage from a Whitney Houston song, but a profound truth. It is neither yours, nor mine alone, but all of our responsibilities, to step outside of ourselves and to do whatever it takes to ensure that our youth have what they need to thrive and ultimately preserve our collective future.
Post written by: Keisha D. Robinson, Project Inspire Social Media Coordinator