A boy in a blue jersey lies on his side, writhing in pain and clutching the shoulder that just slammed into the basketball court with a sickening thud. We parents on the bleachers grimace in unison, taking in the scene as the frenzied action continues on the other side of the court—coaches, players and refs totally unaware. A boy in a red jersey from the opposing team stands over the injured player. He should be downcourt, helping his team score (they are a few baskets behind, after all). But he stays by the boy’s side, gently touching him and repeatedly asking if he’s okay. It’s not until the dazed player slowly gets up and starts walking away that the boy in red turns around to join his team without fanfare.
I tried to look for the boy in the red after the buzzer but lost him in the postgame hustle. His team didn’t win that day, but he was a champion in my eyes. I just hope someone told him. Though it was a seemingly small gesture on his part, it’s the kind of empathy you don’t always see in youth sports. Or in general, for that matter.
The wins, the medals, the trophies, the A+ grades are all things we high-five, praise and even reward our kids for. And that is not a bad thing. But do we recognize the crusaders of kindness with the same fervor? Imagine what a world this would be if we pumped up our children’s egos, like we do when they score in a game or ace a test, every time they acted on empathy.
That’s why today I want to celebrate the unsung and unseen heroes, the young people who show bravery and humanity in the little things they do for others each day. I see you. YOU (yes, you) are freakin’ INCREDIBLE! A true GIFT to us all! And you know what? I know I’m not the only one out there who thinks so.
So thank you. Your actions are appreciated more than you realize. Please continue being amazing you. When no one is watching, when no reward is on the line. Because this world desperately needs it. On behalf of all of us who take the time to notice the kids who care and the give-back gangs, here’s a virtual hug, high-five and “way-to-go” for…
The kid who lets anyone join them at the lunch table.
The kid who makes room on the bus for the shy kid to sit.
The kid who checks in on their friend after an illness or injury.
The kid who puts their arm around a struggling teammate’s shoulders in a huddle.
The kid who sticks up for what they know is right in front of their peers.
The kid who tries nursing that injured baby bird back to health.
The kid who helps takes care of their younger siblings because mom or dad is a single parent.
The kid who asks for donations instead of birthday gifts.
The kid who stands up to the bully.
The kid who shovels the snow from their elderly neighbor’s driveway.
The kid who gives a ball thrown to them from a player or free t-shirt to another at the baseball game.
The kid who patiently walks a classmate through a math problem they’re just not getting.
The kid who passes the ball to a teammate who hasn’t made a basket all season, giving them a chance to score.
The kid who donates their hair to those who have none.
The kid who organizes a mitten drive for the local homeless shelter.
The kid who includes, befriends and comforts a classmate with special needs.
The kid who holds the door open for the mom with the double stroller.
The kid who helps their sibling clean their room so they can get back to playing outside.
The kid who makes a point to compliment an insecure friend.
The kid who picks up and returns money they saw fall out of a stranger’s pocket.
The kid who hugs their mom or dad just because it looks like they really need one.
The kid who doesn’t join in when others are talking behind a friend’s back.
The kid who graciously shows the new kid around school.
The kid who respectfully listens to their grandparents’ stories about growing up (even the ones they’ve already heard).
The kid who picks up litter at the park without being asked.
And all the kids who perform random acts of kindness, give out gems of generosity and love a little more…just because.
THANK YOU, KIND CHILD.
Did you know science proves that being kind increases your life expectancy?! Check out WHY KINDNESS IS GOOD FOR YOU by Happy Science Mom.
© Rachael Liska, happyhearthappyhome.com
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