Dear Kids of the United States,
It’s been quite a year for us grown-ups in the United States, and it occurs to me that you may be wondering what’s going on. Maybe you’ve noticed many adults in your life having a lot of serious conversations.
The basic story is we haven’t been doing a great job of communicating well with one another. And we grown-ups have to figure out how to do that better.
As I’ve been thinking about how to do that, I realized there is something really important to share with you.
You, America’s children, are far more powerful and influential than you know. There are many historical examples of exemplary kids—like Ruby Bridges and Malala—who helped to change the world for the better. And there are also lots of examples of everyday heroics—like when I got my parents to stop smoking when I was 8. Kids all across our country championed recycling and seat belts before they were popular, defended schoolmates who were being picked on, marched for justice, registered voters and raised huge sums of money for causes they believed in.
In this spirit, I offer three concrete suggestions of things you can do to use your power and influence to help people get along.
#1 Ask Questions.
I know some teachers want you to give them the right answers to everything. In life, though, asking the right questions is way more important. If you are wondering about something you’ve heard—on the news, in class, on the playground—ask a grown-up, like a parent, a teacher, a coach, or a librarian—librarians are the superheroes of question-answering. Just by asking questions, you’re making a difference. Questions make people think, and that’s always a good thing.
#2 Play More.
Sounds crazy, but you playing well with other kids actually makes the world a better place. The more you play, the more joy is released into the atmosphere, and the more you and your friends learn to solve problems and work together.
#3 Be Kind.
This may seem like it couldn’t possibly be that important, but being kind is the single most important thing you can do to make a difference. This small action has an impact way beyond what you imagine because your kindness not only influences the people you’re being kind to, it also affects people who see you being kind and . . . BONUS, the person who benefits most of all from your kindness is you.
All of the grown-ups at Playworks are 100% committed to ensuring that you and kids everywhere have access to daily, safe, and healthy play. Beyond that, we want to make sure that schools are kind and respectful places, where learning and joy happen and where you are able to discover your best selves.
We know you are capable of far more than what grown-ups sometimes believe about you, and that this includes extraordinary leadership. We grown-ups have a lot of work to do to make life in the United States better for everyone, and I, for one, believe we will do a better job if we have your leadership to guide us.
Many thanks for all your help with this. On behalf of the grown-ups, I am so glad you’re here.
People need meaning, the opportunity for mastery, and community to thrive. Creating opportunities for people to contribute, and to find their best selves is some of the most important work we can do.