I believe in children with mental or physical ailments. I was only five years old when I attended my first of many family reunions. It was up in Ohio somewhere and my extended family, is very extended. I was new to the family reunion and I was still new to my extended family too. When I arrived, I noticed this one young girl, about my age sitting in the corner watching all the other kids playing with one another. Nothing seemed wrong with her to me, so I ran over to her. She was in a wheelchair and to the other kids, she was way too different to play with’ but to me, she was just a new future friend. We hung out together all day long. I would play games while she watched. Every age group got to play a game and our game was to pick up as much candy as possible at one time. I got to start early because I had to pick up double the amount, half for me, half for my new friend. I pushed her around until my mom made me leave. We had so much fun together that day. I have forgotten much of my childhood, but I will never forget my first trip to my family reunion.
I did not realize it then, but that day was the beginning of my passion for children in need. I realize now that my “new friend” was not only physically incapacitated, but also mentally. There is such a bright side to these young children. Children like her not only invoke an immense feeling of compassion but also, they represent the real and everlasting sense of innocence. When I say compassion I do not mean that I feel sorry for them, but more that I feel a kind of sensitivity that is a true understanding of their everyday situation and pain. These children have no ulterior motives; they are a pure as the driven snow. Almost never do you see them for a long period of time without a great big grin on their faces, even if there is nothing to smile about. Most of these kids will not know that they are different until they grow up or experience prejudice. Hopefully, most won’t ever know that they are different, because their innocence and purity is what our world is lacking more and more everyday. Knowing could put them at risk of losing their unconditional happiness.
I wish for everyone in the world to be touched by someone with mental of physical ailment like my “new friend” because I believe they teach us that we are so incredibly lucky to be able to live life fully every single day. One simple smile from a child reminds us to stop and admire the littlest things. I believe they teach us that all the money in the world will not replace happiness. I believe that these children are the hope for our next generation. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.