Friday, May 24, 2013

Support Children

The last six months have been tough ones for American children.  They've had to deal with people threatening and killing them in school, weather disasters, and terrorist bombings.  When I was growing up in upstate NY, our exposure to death and destruction was far removed and in the adult world, not children's.  Of course, I grew up in the "dark ages" of no electronics like computers, cell phones, tablets, the internet.  The adult's and children's worlds are far closer together nowadays.

This week, an F-5 tornado demolished part of Moore, OK, and killed 24 people, including 9 children.  Here in Minnesota, we lost children, too. 

Zach Sobiech (Credit: People.com)
Zach Sobiech died of a rare form of bone cancer.  He was 18 years old.  Despite battling cancer and all that entails, Sobiech opened his world, his heart and his mind to the rest of the world through his music.  Here's a video of him, on guitar, singing the song, Clouds, that he wrote.  There are other videos of him at YouTube, and you can buy this song at iTunes.  We may think, "Wow, what a strong kid!"  And yes, he chose to be strong and express himself through his music.  But anyone who's been around cancer knows there's weakness, pain, and despair.  By reaching out with his music, he tapped into energy to support him -- the energy of people enjoying his music and him.

A fourth grade class from a western suburb of the Twin Cities went on a fun field trip to a park across the Mississippi from southwest St. Paul.  The Twin Cities have left most of the river's shoreline as wilderness areas or parks for residents to hike and explore.  This fourth grade class' field trip assignment was to search for fossils.  Heavy rains had saturated the ground, and the soft clay at the edge of a bluff gave way when four of the children walked on it, and swept them down with it to the bottom, burying two of the kids.  A tragic accident that tore up many of the adult rescuers from the St. Paul Fire Department.  Two of the children survived, two did not.  We do everything possible to protect our kids when they go out into the world on their own.  But there are unforeseen circumstances and dangers.  Crazy adults.  The rest of that fourth grade class needs adult comfort and support.  They need to know they are safe.  But they also need realistic comfort and support not the sugar-coated kind.

I was feeling down yesterday after the sad events of this week.  Then I received an e-mail from Don McPherson, the President of Modern Survey.  Don and I worked at American Express Financial Advisors (now Ameriprise Financial) at the same time in the late 1990's.  When he left, he started Modern Survey with a colleague. The e-mail's subject was "A Very Special Anniversary" and encouraged me to read Don's blog entry about his experiences as a Big Brother.  As I read this essay, I was moved by these two people, one an adult, the other a kid, unrelated and yet connected in a most profound way by trust and respect and love.  Here also was a guy who had decided to support a child, to be a mentor and champion.  By the end, I was crying.  In an ideal world, every village/town/city would raise its children together no matter where they lived or what their circumstances.  But it's not an ideal world.  Big Brother/Big Sister tries to fill the empty spaces with caring mentors.  If you want to read Don's blog post, it's here.  If you want to know more about Big Brother/Big Sister, check out their website.

Let's support children....


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