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"I CAN".

"Kids succeed if they can {not if they want to}."

-Steven Wiggleworth ,Catherine Nichols Gunn School, Inn From the Cold's Circle of Hope

Our communities are incredibly diverse, diverse not only in culture, in language, in ethnicity, and in socioeconomic class but also in physical, emotional, and mental health. With such diversity, it is obvious that there may be clashes in opinion, in expectations, in the distribution of resources, and in the give and take of the community. So, with such diversity in needs, how do we ensure we are each supported in order to reach our full potential and be able to contribute back to our communities in a sustainable way? First, we need to get curious to grow in our understanding.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as: "a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community".

ABLE: adjective

  1. having sufficient power, skill, or resources to do something;

  2. having the freedom or opportunity to do something;

  3. having a quality or nature that makes something possible, susceptible to some action or treatment.

If we marry these definitions with the knowledge of how experiences shape our brains and with the understanding that not every person, not every child has positive childhood experiences [1/3 kids experience trauma,1/5 kids have a mental illness by the time they are 25, and 1/10 kids live in poverty] we can start to apprecaite the importance that positive relationships can provide. I believe we are ALL born with the ability to reach our full human potential but only IF we are supported and provided the resources and the tools, {"sufficient power, skill, or resources"} like any other task in front of us.

Would we ever expect a 5 year old with no experience with long division to do so successfully? Would we ever expect an accountant with no experience of flying to fly an airplane successfully? Would we ever expect an accomplished CEO with a PhD to survive in the middle of the Antarctic without any resources, tools, or supports. You get my point-All would be unreasonable expectations.

Without the right tools, resources, and supports, things that appear simple to some, like getting an education, finding a career, and buying a house, are actually quit difficult for others. Tools that a safe home, food, consistent sleep and mental wellness provide; resources such as mentally and physically available parents, emotional support, and financial security provide. If we can recognize our own biases towards others and use it to be curious about the stories happening around us, we can help fuel the motivation needed to bridge the gap in understanding regarding the struggles people face day in and day out. perhaps with small transitions in our habits, in our assumptions, we can contribute to the psychological and emotional needs of a child, of any person, to get to ‘I can’.

So, now what? How do we provide psychological and emotional needs to a child, to those we interact with in our everyday? If we piggy back off of the amazing research already done and focus on building relationships, on understating each other, and simply change some of our habits, we can get there. Let’s be mindful of the words and labels we use of others, be mindful of the struggles others may have, and be open to the different experiences others live through without a need to tell them it’s the wrong way. Let’s build a trusting envirenment where we can share our struggles knowing we will be held in the moment. Let’s get out of our comfort zones and volunteer our time to the area we struggle the most in understating or accepting. Perhaps we can refine our communication skills to ask, to clarify, to get to understanding wih those we struggle the most with and more then anything we can give our time, our presence, and simply listen.


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