Filtered by author: Hillary Ladig Clear Filter

Important School Supplies to Remember: Listening & Support

I admit it. I was a runaway. Not in the traditional sense – we all know the statistics and the real stories behind runaway behavior. However, I ran away often. Whenever I was with an older sibling or parent in a store, I would take off when the person was not paying attention, and I would head straight for the school supplies. After a while, they knew where to look, and they would leave me alone to touch the paper, smell the crayons, and to stare in awe at the collection of glue, scissors, pens, and rulers before me. School was a haven. It was a place I could go and not hear fights, not hear cries, and not hear the frustrations that come with trying to raise your children on a week-to-week income with no room for anything but the basics.

I could go to school and learn about new things and different places. I could see other kids and could spot the ones who loved the experience as much as I did. I could also spot the ones who did not. My earliest school memories were tied to a small town filled with traditions and customs. In hindsight, I recognize the stares from those who lived “across the tracks” at my secondhand clothing and the old truck in which my father drove me to school. Those stares were full of unfriendly messages that I did not belong and that I wasn’t good enough. As I got older, I tried to buffer myself against the reaction of others, and I would ask my father to drop me off a little bit away from the school so I could walk and perhaps gain some measure of respect with the others who had earned the right to be one of the walkers. He was sure it was because I must have been embarrassed by the truck. My father was a smart man. He was also sensitive. I got to walk.

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Lessons in Mental Health Care

Written by: Shauna Brooks, Performance and Evaluation Specialist, National Safe Place Network

About fifteen years ago, my partner Kim and I went to very upstate New York to visit her long-time friend who lived on a lettuce farm with her husband and two daughters, the elder 6 and the younger 3 years-old.  I learned two very important lessons during our stay up North: the power of a wet paper towel and the meaning of care.

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Less Than

Written by: Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, National Safe Place Network

Have you ever felt “less than”? It is difficult to explain the feeling but there are times when you can be in a room by yourself and feel “less than”. Your life isn’t what you wanted. You didn’t meet the expectations of others and worse, you didn’t meet the ones you set for yourself. Sometimes you can be on crowded public transportation, face focused outward because looking at the walls of a tunnel are more comforting than looking into the eyes of fellow passengers. The thoughts are persistent – am I “less than” these other passengers because of how I dress, the way I look, the amount of money I have with me, where I am going? Sometimes you can be in a classroom or office and feel secure in who you are and what you know and still feel “less than” your peers or colleagues. Why do they get the interesting opportunities, or feedback, or acceptance?

“Less than” makes people do strange, hurtful, and, sometimes dangerous things. The bully feels “less than” and so will reach out in anger to ensure some sense of control and superiority. The driver with road rage reaches a boiling point and is committed to saying no –  you are in my way, you are slowing me down, you are not better than me – I am not “less than.” The shooter who enters a building and takes the lives of others may even feel that any life, especially his or her own, is not worth living. They may believe there is no value placed on life because lives lived in fear, anger, poverty, mental health crisis, abuse, substance addiction  -  may be perceived as lives of value “less than” others.

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