Empathy

This post is going to be short and sweet. One reason is because I think this subject is something that is particularly relevant today, one year after the Hurricane Sandy disaster. The other is because I believe this video is more powerful standing on its own. There is no dialogue, just music and images on the screen. This allows you to really absorb the message. You take out all the background noise and what do you have? Raw human emotion. A glimpse at the inner thoughts of all those around us. Take a look:

Everyone has a story. Let’s be active readers instead of just looking at the illustrations on the cover.

empathy

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Smashing Walnuts

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I want to begin by looking at the picture above. This is a little activity a blogging mother created for her children, but we have all been in science classes where we were able to participate in something similar. So my question for you is: How did you get your boat to make it to the other side? Did you talk to it? Tell it to “Get moving!” Or perhaps, “I’d like it if you got to the other side.” How’d that work out for you? Maybe you gave it a swift little push. Did that work?

If you were smart, like the little girls in the picture, you would have blown on it continuously, with constant effort, until it reached the other side. To get something moving, it takes ACTION. Will the boat move if you talk to it? Give it some words of encouragement to get it going across the water? I’m sorry, no. This is what Gabriella Miller teaches us in her speech about raising awareness for childhood cancer:

stop talking start doing

Remember last February when the impossible feat of defining “love” was achieved through the story of the Long brothers? Get ready for “inspire” to be defined. This ten-year-old’s speech will leave you in awe. She truly knows how to inspire through her words, ACTIONS, and relentless attitude.

Did you know the word “inspire” comes from the latin word “inspirare,” meaning “to breathe or blow into”? Gabriella has achieved so much in her short lifetime. She has given all of her breath to keep the efforts (little boats) moving. We owe this much to her: to continue what she has started.

The goal is this:

walnut boat

Give the walnuts sails so they can travel near and far to spread the word. (RAISE CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS).

walnut boat race

Now, with our breath, keep the walnut boats MOVING. Keep the ACTION GOING. (Be ACTIVE in the fight against childhood cancer).

smashing walnuts

Then, one day, all the walnuts will be smashed the second they’re discovered. (Find a CURE).

If you agree that Gabriella defines the word “inspire” through her words and her ACTIONS, please post in the comments section the type of action you will take to raise awareness for childhood cancer. I want her to know that we will continue to fight for her cause when she is no longer able to do it herself. This way, as “We are the champions,” the song she plays at the end of her speech says, she will “go on and on and on and on.”

I will leave you with this, Gabriella’s quote that she typically ends her speeches with: “You may have a bad day today, but there’s always a bright, shining star to look forward to tomorrow.”

gabriella

Check out this outtake reel where Gabriella tells it like it is:

To purchase Gabriella’s book, visit: http://www.amazon.com/Beamer-Learns-about-Cancer-Series/dp/1457522462/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382802179&sr=8-1&keywords=gabriella+miller

“Like” Gabriella’s Facebook page here:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Make-A-Wish-with-Gabriella/489751111047045

I Wanna See You Be Brave

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you have no voice? Maybe you’re out to dinner with a group of people and every time you try to start a sentence you get interrupted. Or, you’ve been sitting in a three-hour meeting at work and each suggestion you make is met with a few apathetic head nods and a change of subject. It’s a feeling that is frustrating beyond words. You literally just want to stand up and scream at everyone for being so rude.

Is-Anyone-Listening

But what if you couldn’t stand up? And what if your words were not only drowned out by inattentiveness but also by the relentless beeping of machines and shuffling of feet as they go in and out of your room. The room starts spinning. And you’re suddenly stuck in this revolving door, suctioned to the glass…watching strangers as you shout at them with your hands pressed forward in desperation…but they can’t hear you…and they are able to escape the spinning, but you’re not.

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I would imagine this may be what it feels like to be a child in the hospital. Children ask a lot of questions. That’s because they’re trying to make sense out of the world they’re living in. Maybe we don’t always see it because we’re in a hurry and we don’t have time to stop and explain things like how its possible that a ladybug can be a male or a female. It’s our world and they’re just living in it, right? No.

That feeling of frustration you get when your boss isn’t listening to you or you vent to a friend about something on the phone and they seem like they’re in a different world isn’t only possible for adults to have. Children are not immune to this feeling.

If you then add in the typical stressors for anyone in a hospital setting, it can sometimes become impossible for a child to have their voice heard without some help. This is where child life specialists come in and the idea of advocacy. As one of my texts says, “Where people have their own voice, advocacy means making sure they are heard: where they have difficulty speaking, it means providing help: where they have no voice, it means speaking for them.”

listen to me with your eyes

This means, child life specialists and anyone who visits or works with a child in the hospital (or any other setting for that matter) can be the microphones or translators these children need so that their thoughts and concerns do not get drowned out by the constant thump-thump-thumping of the adult world.

KneelingElephant

And even if this doesn’t apply directly to you and you aren’t typically in these types of situations, apply this rule to your every day life. Be more conscious of how loud your song is blasting over the radio because there may be other people out there whose songs aren’t being heard because of your frequency. We’re all guilty of this from time to time. It’s hard not to become wrapped up in our own thoughts and goals. As long as we are conscious of the other beats in the world, there won’t be so many sad songs on the radio.

Check out this video a few classmates and I made to touch on the subject of advocacy for children in hospitals and how child life specialists can help: