Four little words….”You’re important to me.” It may not seem like much, but I think she touched my soul when she said them. I know that my work is important and I love it every single day. This semester I have had the opportunity to work at a local elementary school. Through that experience, I met a lot of wonderful kids–worked with them one on one, in groups, and through Girls on the Run. A good friend tries to convince me every single day that I should cross #6 off my list.
I was close one day a few weeks ago…One of the first grade boys I had been working with, came into school the other week lugging a huge, heavy bag; barely making it through the door. So I pull him in my office really quick and ask him whats up. He explains to me that he’s been doing everything he can to collect money for Jump Rope for Heart. He has been searching for coins everywhere, sweeping the kitchen for his mom, and doing random chores for neighbors for donations. This little boy has had a rough time, low income in a high income school and severe ADHD which makes the classroom an everyday challenge for him. But I adore him. And this was the sweetest story I had heard in a long time. So we dumped out the bag, counted up the change, and called Jump Rope for Heart and he told them his story. They were incredible and uplifted him so much and then told him that they were going to match his collection with a donation in his name, which meant that he would have collected enough to earn a JRFH TShirt; which for him, was so meaningful! It really humbled me and absolutely made my day. And I know that it was AWESOME for him too!
But I just wasn’t QUITE ready to cross it off my list.
Then…in walks this incredible 4th grade girl who is wildly misunderstood…by both her peers and teachers. But there was something shining about her and I wanted to get to know her. So over the next month we worked together multiple times a week. One of our last days together we did this activity where I was trying to get her to identify the characteristics about herself which she most valued. After we did this and talked about it for sometime she asked me to do the activity (which included sorting cards into different piles based on how much they were like you). I agreed and did so pretty quickly, but got stuck on one. Important. Without skipping a beat she took the card out of my hand and placed it in the appropriate pile simply stating “you’re important to me”. Like I said, it felt like she was speaking straight to my soul and I’m lucky I didn’t cry right in front of her.
Yes, I know #6 says make a difference in a kids life, not have a kid make a difference in my life. After this session I took the time to look back over this session and the rest of our time together. It may not seem like much but saying these words meant as much to her as they did to me, as it has been a struggle for her to like and trust adults in the school because of this reputation she had developed. I know without a doubt I made as much of a difference for her as she did to me. And I will remember her always. 🙂