Summer is a time to relax. Children have been working all year and this break from the everyday routine is so appreciated by both the teachers and students alike. The warm weather provides opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and relax.
When I was a kid, I played lots of imagination games. Back then, without tablets and phones, we could travel the country and be home by lunch. So, as you are reading this, find a tree in a nice, shady spot and take an adventure with me.
I recently watched a news story about Mayor Mike Coffman from Aurora, CO, who sought to learn about the issue of homelessness. He decided to immerse himself in this situation for a week. According to Hoffman, “This was an opportunity for me to sit down, side-by-side, with people experiencing this, and talk to them, not as a policy-maker, but really as one of them.”
Challenge yourself with me. Let’s pick a city and hop on our imaginary train. When we get there, we will walk through the streets and talk to some people. Since it’s summertime, we know it will be hot. We will have to think about staying hydrated. Pause here for just a minute. Reflect on the fact that the homeless community is living in the heat all summer.
Now, back to our trip. Think about some of the people you might meet along the way as we walk through the city. What questions can you think of to ask them? If the purpose of this journey is to learn something about the individuals and what their experiences are like, then we need to ask them about themselves.
We might ask them their name and encourage them to tell us something about themselves. The Homeless Community lives every day feeling invisible to all of the people who pass by them. They don’t feel that anyone even cares to know their name. How much kindness could we spread if we just made someone feel noticed?
I know it is not always easy to make these connections and it can be a little scary to talk to people we don’t know. Another way we can make an individual feel special is through the magic of card-making. The Giving Tree sends thousands of cards to our vulnerable neighbors. We hear such positive feedback from our friends at the shelters. These cards stay with the patrons. They often carry them in their bags until they fall apart.
I’m sure that you have thought of many interesting conversation starters. Think about what a great imaginary trip this could be for our children. So many lessons for them to learn as they stop to think about people in need and how they could make them feel with just a kind word or a smile.
So, it’s probably time to hop on that train and head home. I hope you had an informative trip and gained some insight on your journey. I also hope that you have time to stay under your shady tree a little longer. It is summer break and we all need that breather. Grab a cold drink and some markers and paper. Write an uplifting message and encourage your child to do the same. After all, we are lucky to have our children to take along on our journey.