What I learned from a group of teenagers about compassion

4 years ago

What are we teaching our kids about compassion? How are we modeling the behavior for our kids? Do we slow down to talk to our kids about respecting others that are different from them?

Last night I attended a fundraiser for the organization Best Buddies. Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The night was filled with lots of inspiring speeches and awards. It was truly a great way to begin the Thanksgiving holiday season. The room was filled with gratitude and inspiration.

The moment that made me pause and do a self-check was when a mother named Molly took the stage. She spoke about how she took charge and fought for her son's school to participate in the Best Buddies program.

She spoke about witnessing her son struggle with finding friends and eating alone in the cafeteria. Boy did that image take me back to my childhood days! She said "Imagine how any child feels entering the cafeteria not sure who to sit with and now imagine how a child with special needs must feel". I quickly thought of my children and how even at 8 years old how social challenges have already begun so my heart sunk thinking about how that experience must have felt for her son.

Then she spoke about what impact the Best Buddies program had on her son's confidence, the friendships he has made, the accomplishment of making the Special Olympics basketball team and how he does regular things like hang out with boys his age.

As she pointed to the table of young people sitting behind me I was brought to tears. The table behind me was filled with smiling young men and women that happily made the choice to spend their Friday night celebrating the amazing work of the Best Buddies program.

Molly said when she asked one of the boys if they were sure they wanted to attend tonight he responded her son wasn't a chore he was his friend. Wow! What compassion and insight for a teenager!! I don't know many teenagers but based on the images that are reflected in the news and media these teenagers last night unfortunately are not the norm.

The Best Buddies program gives so much to the children and adults with special needs but it also gives so much to the buddies. Can you imagine the life long lesson on compassion that you take away when you slow down your teenage life and get to know someone that may be different from you? The lessons are priceless. It teaches you humanity in a way that no parent can ever teach it.

So as I looked at the young kids dancing the night away with their buddies and watched the endless smile on everyone's faces it made me realize that I have to ensure my children participate in a program like Best Buddies when they are of age.

Can you imagine where the world would be if lessons of compassion is embedded in the hearts of our youth because they have a forever name attached to compassion of their best buddies friend.

So I want to thank my dear sister friend for introducing me to best buddies, Molly for helping to push me on my responsibility of parenting and for the young men and women that are truly changing the world!

Chatty Guest app was honored to be a part of this event by allowing the guests to engage with one another through photo sharing and dialogue. Sharing important experiences with people experiencing it with you!

Please go to www.bestbuddies.org and donate or learn more about this organization.

This is an article written by a member of the SheKnows Community. The SheKnows editorial team has not edited, vetted or endorsed the content of this post. Want to join our amazing community and share your own story? Sign up here.
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