Wednesday, June 4, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

"If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?"

- Over The Rainbow,
Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen

“Words make you think thoughts,
Music makes you feel a feeling,
But a song makes you feel a thought.”

Yip Harburg

Among my fondest childhood memories is the fun we had putting on plays.

We kids would select a play from a book that contained scripts, and choose relevant music. Then we'd divvy up the roles and practice. Sometimes we'd just act out the play for our own enjoyment. Other times, we'd decide to invite a small audience.

Before the day of the event, we'd set up the stage, create a curtain and put some chairs and benches in place in the basement. Then we'd invite neighborhood kids and put on the performance. The adults would sneak in for a view and to lend support.

Of the plays attempted, the one we kept settling on was "The Wizard of Oz". We had the movie soundtrack and used it as the background music for the singers. One of our closest neighbor friends loved to sing, and she had a lovely voice. She was also brave enough to solo, and would practice at home singing along with the record for hours. Of course, she played Dorothy, and I never tired of hearing her sing "Over the Rainbow". She always sang it with so much feeling.

These memories came to mind as I viewed an interview with Margaret Pelligrini, one of the munchkins who visited the area last weekend for "Oz Stravaganza". She proclaims that nobody can sing "Over The Rainbow" like Judy Garland did, and she has heard many try. Just a glance over the comments beneath the video of Garland's performance at it's original source shows a tiny sample of the enormous impact this song has made and continues to make on people. Whenever it is heard, it evokes some thought or feeling about home.

For some, home is where they enjoy being and long to return, where one knows they are always safe and cared for. Home may be a state of existence others desire to recapture, like the carefree, happy feeling of childhood. Even those who have had humble or less than ideal home environments seem to hold the memories of their childhood dwelling place in high regard.

Sadly, home is not that kind of place for some children growing up. It may be a place from which a child longs to escape.

For these kids, home is where their basic needs are not met. When the needs of kids are neglected, the fundamental building blocks that help them function as well-adjusted adults may not be present. If they don't develop these assets somewhere along the way, they may make wrong choices that result in other problems, including violence and crime.

The story of Bill Strickland, highlighted in the post "What One Person Can Do", illustrates how a child who is at risk of these negative outcomes can be positively influenced by other caring adults. Strickland was cared for by a teacher and his wife, who taught him important life skills and treated him like family. As a result of his experience, Strickland went on to dedicate his life to helping other children in similar circumstances receive the kind of support they need to grow and thrive as adults.

Community Policing aims to address the issues that can prevent crime through various interventions, including the placement of Policing Centers with officers assigned full-time in neighborhoods. At the Northside Community Police Center (NCPC), Officer Clarke and the volunteers effort to create an environment that welcomes kids and makes them feel cared for.

The atmosphere of events at the NCPC feels close to that of a family environment for children. The adults have a good time, too. Seeing the happy expressions on their faces is very rewarding.

The pictures and cards available, as well as blog posts (tagged "events") and Officer Clarke's quarterly letters, chronicle these events. Supporters can see their donations and efforts were worthwhile, and participants can remember the fun they had.

The times spent with other adults and children during these events may create lasting memories that these kids will recall in future years. They may even produce a "Bill Strickland" someday.

What is one of your fondest childhood memories? Share it with us in the Comments.

No comments: