This morning I read The General Comment to Article 31 (the Right to Play) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It gave me hope after a week of deep sadness based on just knowing too much about stuff I can’t control.
In contrast to what I heard on the radio earlier this week, which sat like a weight on my heart, and had me hugging my children longer than usual, through tears, it is a shot of optimism that I want to hold on to. I cannot wrap my head around the things children around the world are experiencing. To be honest, I couldn’t even hear the full article. I had to rush to turn off the radio before the story could finish. Children in Syria and those who have fled the devastation in that country are exposed to horrors unthinkable.
When I was younger, I went through a period where I wanted to read all I could on World War II. I needed to find the hero’s in the midst of that time-frame. The power of the human spirit to overcome, to treasure something of beauty in the middle of a world of darkness; the concept of a flower growing out of a bank of concrete, orchestras performing music made of battered instruments smuggled into work camps – these stories fed my soul.
Across the world, and in our own back yards, in our own little communities, there are children living in dark times. Either they don’t have resources, or they don’t have love. They still have creativity. Remember “Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Down,” and how that was a sing-song game created by children living during a time of great plague, where people were dropping like flies all around them? Those children created their own game out of the darkness they were experiencing. Children will play with whatever their world serves up to them. As creepy as that may seem, it is inspiring in a way. Children need to play. Children will find a way to play.
What scares me is the games children growing up in a Refugee Camp will play. Heck, what games are children in my own little town playing? What is the world we are giving them to imitate? Whatever they see will become their game, will become their growing up, will become their ideas of life.
We have to provide them with a world where the things they play can turn into something that will someday serve the world.
Next school year, my kids and I will be trying to implement an After School Program one day a week at their Elementary School, based on some of the fun things we do around here. We have a Budget of Zero, but we have limitless ideas. What we want to do is Play and Create, and Learn while we are having fun. We want to share our enthusiasm for learning with other kids and other families.
I cannot do anything for the children growing up in camps right now, which would break my heart if I let it. But I can do something for the children in my own community. If we each do what we can in the ground we are planted in, and try to spread the cause of joy and play, we might be able to influence the world in a small way.
photo from here