Whilst most of the readers in this space already know that I spend a good deal of time on pursuits to make me happy like knitting, reading, and cooking, one of the things I feel strongly, passionately, about, is giving time to Boston’s youth. It’s a pretty simple endeavor to listen to a child.
Last week was our final breakfast for a reading and writing program I belong to with middle schoolers in Roxbury. It was amazing to see my 8th grader transform over the course of the year; he started as a timid child and when I saw him last week in a pin-striped suit, he was becoming a young man.
So many unexpected things come out of working with kids; my 8th grader is really a math and science star but when I took him to purchase a summer reading book, he picked out a heaping book of some 900 pages which left me surprised and aglow: Roots by Alex Haley.
If you haven’t read the epic tale of Kunta Kinte yet, what are you waiting for? We made a pact to spend the summer reading Roots together, and while he doesn’t fancy himself a self-starting reader, he was the one who ultimately picked it without me saying a word about how splendid it is, and that means something, no?
With our kids still reeling from the recent loss of their friend, a child in our program, they were, as expected, fearful for the impending summer and beaten down by all the tragedy. It’s hard to imagine children being fearful of no homework, endless sunny days, and relaxation, but its reality for these kids. I work with children who have been given opportunities every day at my job, whether it be because they have means or because they are noticed. Every one of these kids should be noticed no the matter anything else.
Despite the tragedies that took place this year, there definitely were more promising moments out of all this. I don’t take this lightly, and I urge you, wherever you live, wherever you read this blog from, please work with children. Pay them attention and foster their interests, their strengths, and push them to do great things.
My readers in this space often ask me what inspires me. These kids who struggle every day with survival and still create great things, and work hard, but are normal teenagers, those kids inspire me.