I am continually amazed by the resiliency of young people. Much more than us adults! An article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer sheds light on this fact through a story about Eric, a teen, who was brutally beaten throughout his life but in spite of it all delivered his high school’s valedictorian speech this past spring. Eric, a star student, will be a freshman at Temple University this fall! He is one of the lucky ones. There were adults – neighbors, foster parents, and teachers – who were paying attention and provided this young man a safety net when he needed it most. There are many, many other children like Eric who fall between the cracks. Their screams and pain go unnoticed; they are not helped along the way.
Over 400,000 U.S. children were removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect last year. The child welfare system’s first priority is to get these children into a safe environment and work with the families to fix the problems that resulted in the child being taken away. But this is not a smooth road. It is fraught with trauma, disruption, many times more abuse, confusion for the children, and the list goes on and on. So when I hear about young people like Eric, I applaud the adults that got involved and I give Eric a standing ovation for his amazing ability and powerful inner strength to rise above it all and walk the path toward a successful life.
Excerpt from the Inquirer article – Eric during his valedictorian speech:
“What seemed gracious beyond his years and experience was his praise for family members - biological and chosen – in the audience.
‘And on a special note to all the friends and family who are here for me today, I would like you guys to stand up and know that not only do I appreciate and admire you, but I want everyone here to admire you also because I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for all of you.’ “
We get a chance to meet incredibly resilient children like Eric at ourmatch parties or a Wednesday’s Child taping for example. Their positive demeanor and personal determination stops us in our tracks and makes us work even harder to find them safe and loving homes. We can all learn a lot from Eric’s story.