On my way back from a visit to the Veterans Administration Hospital downtown, my return trip took me up Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s when I saw it. Large clouds of black smoke. And it seemed like the more smoke I saw, the worse the fire was. Something was definitely burning and it was burning fast.
I could tell the fire was somewhere close to my house. I prayed it wasn’t someone’s home going up in flames.
When I finally arrived home, I heard the fire was at the school playground.
About two blocks away from my house is Matthew A. Henson Elementary School. School #29 in the city school system. Most of my family went there and my brother just finished there in 2012. While he was at the school, they took a summer to replace the blacktop on the playground with grass and a new play structure. It was a much needed and welcome improvement for this inner city school.
Sadly, it was that same play structure that was set on fire yesterday. Word on the street is the fire was set by neighborhood kids.
For years this playground has served as a place for kids all around the neighborhood to come and play on the weekends, after school, and during school breaks. The addition of the play structure gave a little bit of everything for kids of all sizes. And, of course, there was a sliding board!
Sometimes I see kids in my neighborhood who are ignored by those who are supposed to care for them. I feel so badly for them. I don’t know the circumstances, but I don’t think any kid should feel like no one cares about what they do. I firmly believe that is the cause of much of the misbehavior I see around here. Kids want to know that their parents or grandparents or aunts and uncles care more about the kids than themselves. The kids want and need the attention that will help them grow up to be the people God wants them to be. But how can they if they are just left to their own devices?
We need to do a better job as caregivers and as a community – all communities. We need to do a better job protecting our kids and teaching them lifetime skills and values. The kids are a reflection of us. The kids can’t be better if we aren’t better.
Maybe that means less outside activities and more family time. Or more family time away from cell phones, tablets and video games in favor of outdoor movies, concerts and fairs.
I’m not saying any of those other activities are inherently bad, but when they take our attention off of people so precious to us that material and emotional destruction happen, then we need to band together and plan to make our families and communities better.
The charred remains of the play structure. (Photo courtesy Clyde Boatwright)
Today is the first day of summer. Take this as the first day to hold each other to a higher, Godly, standard and make changes that will continue to pay forward for generations to come!
So, I want to hear about the things you have planned in your community and for you family! Let’s inspire each other!