I wandered into the B-SAFE Humanities classroom this week where John Dwyer has been working and saw a table covered with cards. “To My Future Self” the cards were addressed. Inside, B-SAFE Learners had written down how they were feeling at the time they made them, “I Feel….” they began. “I Feel Happy!” “I Love Camp!” but also “I Feel Depressad (but I like John)” I love this creative spelling btw.
In my desk at home, I have a letter that says, “Do not open until 2077!” I had written a letter to my future self. From time to time, I open it. I used to find it embarrassingly goofy, but now I find it an amazing encapsulated report of a particular time in my life.
It occurs to me that many of the moments we share with children in our daily lives are time capsules--each act of kindness and teaching can make an indelible impression on a child’s life, as they carry it with them. To us, the moment may be quickly forgotten.To a child, the moment can be everything.
I still remember a camp counselor who made a dandelion chain for me one afternoon. I remember making stained glass cookies in a summer art camp. I remember a summer art teacher who was kind to me and complimented a large papier mache pig I had made and urged me to work on it some more--”it’s good! Keep going!”. In fact, I still have it and my family won’t let me throw it away! A papier mache cat my daughter made sits right next to it (she’s almost 23 now).
From childhood summers, I remember specific popsicles, art projects, splashing in fountains, eating a potato cooked in a campfire, but more than that, people who affirmed me and what I was feeling in the moment--whether that was “happy” or “depressad!”
So to the volunteers, the staff members, the families, and the supporters of B-SAFE, I would say, please remember that the small things that you do and say can be of huge importance to the young people--affirming a feeling, sharing lunch, drawing a picture together, helping with a band-aid, reading, leading a field trip: these moments of kindness become part of a child’s memories and a big part of who that child becomes. Don’t ever underestimate who you are in a child’s life.
By Kate Hornstein
Kate is Director of Development at SSYP until August 9th. Kate is also a volunteer writing tutor, choir geek, pug lover, aspiring novelist, and mother to two wonderful young people.