The other day I was asked by a person evaluating the Abilene After School program what I was most proud of in regard to the after school program. I can’t remember my full answer right now but I guess it satisfied the evaluator. I would now answer that question differently. My simple answer would have been “Last Friday”. When I left here last Friday, I was full of pride. Not in myself, but in what we accomplished as a team. Let me explain.

Last Friday, I saw Christian playing hide and seek with a group of kids. Danny R was sitting next to the playground swings listening to kids. They were telling him jokes while they were swinging. Denise L was protecting dinosaur eggs with a small group of boys, and I was kicking boomers (high kicks with a kick ball) to a small group of kids. Across town at Kennedy, Amanda was using a small group of second to fifth graders to help  younger kids assemble a special gift for their grandparents.

A person passing by the program at this time might say, “Baby Sitting. How easy.” What they really saw was professionals building relationships with kids. An adult running, hiding, chasing and laughing with them. Another listening to them. Another taking part in their imaginary world. Another challenging their athletic abilities. Another showing them how to give to  others.

They didn’t see or know of the needs of these children: a child living in a single parent home with no extended family nearby, a child waiting to learn how long mom will be going away to prison, a child with a missing parent, not knowing if or when she will return to the family unit, a child so angry  that he tries to hurt himself, a child learning to live with a new adoptive family, a child waiting to learn of the date his father will be deployed for another six months to a foreign land, a child who has tried very hard to be their best self for the past six hours at school and is tired of conforming for another two hours, a child who learns differently from everyone else, a child….A positive memory with this child means everything when negative behavior starts to unfold. A positive memory leads back to trust. A positive memory reminds them that this person knows me. A positive memory means that time has been shared with them. A positive memory indicates that a relationship has been established.

“Last Friday”= Taking the time to create a positive memory which strengthens relationships with our kids..“Last Friday”, doesn’t refer to just one day in the year. It is everyday you choose to build a positive memory with a child. I am humbled by all of  you.

From Bertina’s staff at Kennedy to Dawn’s staff at the Abilene Middle School. Your investment in the after school program and our kids is noticed and appreciated.

Special thanks to Dan Brown for writing this blog entry.