Yes­ter­day Rose and I vol­un­teered at a local high school for Chal­lenge Day. Rose had done it before and asked me to come along. Wow. Thank you Rose. Chal­lenge Day is a one day pro­gram that helps kids break down bar­ri­ers, recon­sider cliques, have a moment to feel with­out being laughed at (what? Yo! really?) and to rethink bullying.

Armando (name changed) was a kid I did not meet. He would not meet me. The adults are sup­posed to help the kids get crazy all morn­ing so that in the after­noon they feel safe to go deep. In fact the harder they play, the deeper they go. This was a quote. (I think I will store this one away as I get to know the youn­gin on the way). Any­way, Armando, was tough, stuck to a friend, uncom­mu­nica­tive, dressed to threaten. I tried to meet the kid sev­eral times. Chin would jut out, he would nod, say noth­ing. I stopped hang­ing around.

By the end of the day, I saw him again. His hat (which was cov­er­ing his eyes before) was off, he was smil­ing. He hugged his friend, who was cry­ing. I am not mak­ing that up. He looked like so many of the kids looked. I finally fig­ured out what I was see­ing. It was relief. Finally a breath a space, per­mis­sion, to be who they are, to feel, to care. Most of us got in line in the first grade and from then on had the feeling/loving/caring dis­ci­plined right out of us.

As these kids saw that they are the same in more ways than they are dif­fer­ent the walls came down. I saw myself in Armando. I spent the day mostly in tears, for myself and for the kids. So great to see them find a lit­tle oasis in the mid­dle of the desert, a place to bloom, a lit­tle, for a minute. At the end the facil­i­ta­tors said that they believe that lives had been changed in that day. Mine was. I have hope for Armando. Who knows what pres­sure cooker he goes in to when his hat goes back on and he walks out that door, but I do have hope and that feels fresh. Watch this.

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2 Responses to Unlikely

  1. Rose says:

    Thank you for taking the day off of work and giving your love and compassion to a room of strangers. Those kids were changed, even just for that day. You were a part of that. Ready to do it next year? I am.

  2. Kimi says:

    WOW. I work at the high school in Madras. How do I find about this program?

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