Sunday, September 12, 2010

EA: Every kid deserves a chance

There is one thing that one of the members of EA brought up a couple of meetings ago that made me wince. Actually there were a couple of things. This person is one of the most 'frank' members of the team, and I like that about her, that she can be real.

She said that one of her friends had asked, 'Who are the kids that you are bringing on this trip in Expedition Agape? And how do you choose them?'

Ooh... that made me wince. But as she pointed out, it was a valid question from donors who did want to know where their hard-earned money was going to.

Okay, okay.... I guess I'm just too much of an idealist. I like to see it as it doesn't matter who you are, or what you've done, when you come to join EA. That there is no 'criteria' to exclude you or criteria to 'include' you.

I guess there must be some... I don't really know what the criteria are.

And I love the fact that one of the criteria for kids who join is that ideally they should have gone through CV - love that simply because CV is a camp for those kids who aren't 'pretty' in society's sight.

Do you know what I mean by 'pretty'? I mean the big eyed, sad eyed, little tots with their thumbs in their mouth and dirty, torn clothing that pull at your heart when you see them in charity appeal ads.

CV kids... are all kinds. But on the main, they're pretty darn tough. Love that :).

I guess my dream would be that each kid had a chance based on the luck of the draw. That, because you want this (the kids at CV are asked to tick a form if they want to come for EA), you have as much chance as any kid of having it.

You may not be the prettiest, you may not be the smartest, you may not be the nicest, you may not be the bravest, you may not be the best kid to come through our program... all you have to be is just you. Just because you're you, YOU qualify as a candidate.

I guess I'm being unfair because... well, good kids do deserve something more for being good, right? But then, are we just going to let the no-goods fall through the cracks? And who defines who is a 'no-good'?

I was reading Dave Pelzer's book about his teen years in foster care. Everyone knows Dave Pelzer now as the Child Called It.... the little boy who was eventually ranked the third worst case of child abuse recorded in Canada.

When he was finally rescued... burnt, stabbed, bruised, starved... he went rather wild in foster care. He slammed doors when he was angry, he was accused of starting a fire, he was 'mouthy', he sometimes stole...

But today, he is a motivational speaker reaching tens of thousands of youths at-risk and adults with his own life story and with the message that you can do anything and be anything you wanna be if you work hard enough and hang tough.

My point is.... once upon a time, almost nobody would have picked out this runty, undersized, squinty, sad-eyed, angry and disruptive kid as anyone worth being chosen as "Most Likely to Succeed". They'd have labelled him a 'no-good'. But, they'd be wrong, wouldn't they?

People do wrong things. People make wrong choices. Kids act out. People get angry. But all it sometimes takes is just ONE chance... one person to believe in you enough and to show you that they believe in you, to turn around somebody's life.

I heard that it was hard to see the tangible results after the last EA. But I believe in the seeds sown in their lives. Seeds are small, hardy things that hide underground. But when the time comes, mighty trees grow out of them that can't be shaken. In time to come, the 'trees' of EA will show.

And on that day, I hope every kind of boy and girl will be represented amongst the 'trees'... the good, and the branded 'bad', the attractive and the 'ugly', the high-achievers and the 'hopeless cases'... all on that day standing tall and strong and proud.

I believe in EA. I believe in this as a program that works for every kind of kid. I believe that it will bring changes in every youth who goes through it. So I pray every kind of kid gets to go through it and have that one chance, even if it IS 'unpopular' with the donors.

Perhaps it will take us having more 'success' cases before people come to see that every kid deserves a chance.

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