The story unfolded like a nightmare: kids, babies really, had been shot at Sandy Hook Elementary. As a teacher, this news story encapsulated my worst fears as a professional.
However, leave it to Mr. Rogers to give me a means to see past the sheer terror and despair of the situation. Sandy Hook was five years ago; today, Mr. Rogers’ words give me a lens through which my son can see any tragedy we come across.
See, Mr. Rogers once explained that in emergencies, his mother always reminded him to focus on the helpers: the first responders, the every day heroes, the shoulders we lean on.
Now, when we hear a siren, witness an accident-even when his Matchbox ‘crash,’ we talk about the helpers.
We also find ways to be the helpers. At Target, we hang up items that have fallen, we work to cheer up his brother or feed the dog. He says, uh oh, Mama! Then we say, here come the helpers!
Rather than see the world as a fearful place where bad things happen, I hope he will see the world as a place where everyday people have the power to make a difference.
In this same light, I was excited to catch a part of the WE Day celebration broadcast the other day on CBS; it felt like high time the media celebrated all the good young people are doing in the world. My students have long read Craig Kielburger’s Free the Children, which alerts youth to the concept of child labor. It’s exciting to think that more young people will take on similarly worthy causes through organizations such as Kielburger’s.
Focusing on the helpers is one coping skill I hope to give my boys; in what other ways do you moms and teachers help kids overcome tragedy and be a force for change?
P.S. One supremely easy way to be a helper is through Johnson & Johnson’s Donate a Photo campaign. Simply pick your cause and upload a photo in its name. Truly, that’s all.