Eden - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on March 14, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

It is a scientifically proven fact that laughter is the world’s best medicine. With only one healthy dose, numerous people can be cured at one time – without them having to endure “icky-ness” that is typically associated with other common medicines. Research has also shown that laughter helps lower cholesterol and helps speed the period of convalescence after surgery. For me, however, laughter treats my mental health more so than it does physically; laughter is my source of inspiration and motivation. I believe in the power of laughter.

I laugh. A lot. Unfortunately, there are people in this world who do not live in environments that provoke laughter. Last year, I volunteered to organize the reenactment of the Polar Express for over 50 underprivileged kids on a Chicago Metra train. Many of these kids are not financially capable of celebrating the holidays like my family does – with presents, a Christmas tree, and a huge holiday dinner. As a result, many of the kids on the train were initially skeptical and even cynical of the Polar Express project. As I and other high school volunteers invited them to sing Christmas carols and participate in arts and crafts, however, the tense environment began to relax and the kids began to laugh and enjoy themselves. When “Santa” made a special appearance on the train and handed out presents to all the kids (and a few pieces of “coal” to certain naughty volunteers), the kids could hardly control their excitement. Together, we played games, told jokes, and sang songs. The kids were so grateful for this experience that when the volunteers stepped off the train at the end of the trip, the children stopped us and gave each one of us a hug and a smile. One of the main reasons I continue to volunteer in the community is so I can continue hearing kids laugh.

My family takes this idea of laughter seriously. Though the age difference between my oldest sister and my youngest cousin is 15 years, we are still able to play games together because we share the same love for laughter. One such game we play is the “Ha Ha” game, where all nine of us “kids” place our heads on each other’s stomach and say the word, “Ha.” Whoever laughs first loses. Even though I am 17 years old, I still cannot beat my 6-year-old cousin at that game.

Though I might have had different aspirations and personalities than the kids on the train or my younger cousins, our ability to laugh was what united us all. Laughter transcends all age boundaries and keeps memories timeless.