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Reading, Pajamas and the Little Leaders Among Us

I met the most extraordinary boy yesterday through the Pajama Program.  (Please click the link if you want to find out about the coolest organization doing something simply spectacular…inspiring reading and providing warm pajamas to under served kids.)

Shane, age 8, and I were reading the book Frieda B.  It’s a whimsical book about imagination and dreams. It led to a conversation about what we want in our lives.  He said his dream was to become a billionaire.  When I asked why, I expected answers like “getting a big house” or “buying every video game.”  His answer shocked me.

Shane:  “I want to give it away.”
Me:  “Who would you give it to?”
Shane:  “People with cancer who can’t buy things on their own.”

I was humbled…for the second time that morning.

Before the kids arrived, the volunteers were talking about helping kids.  One wise man, Steve, who worked as a volunteer in the inner city Newark (NJ) school system for years talked about cutting through the rough exterior of kids who struggle during their growing up years.  His approach was to find common ground and build trust.  Common ground can be hard to find when there’s an age, ethnic, and demographic difference.  He did it by bringing in photos of his dogs.

Trust is like love. Both parties have to feel it before it really exists. — Simon Sinek

He said that it doesn’t matter how old the kids are.  His advice is to never lose faith.   Sometimes middle and high school kids act tough but there’s still a child underneath all the layers.

I have to add to that.  I think there’s also a leader under all those layers.  Sometimes we just need the chance to have the conversation.

Thanks Pajama Program, sponsored by Scholastic and Carter’s,  for providing the platform and the common ground called books to be inspired by the little leaders among us.