The doll came home from school Monday with a handout promoting the possibility to be involved in a “flash mob” on Sunday, designed to shine a bright light on anti bullying. Evidently a camera crew will be set up to video the event and then send it around the world. My original thoughts were, “Hmm” but the doll’s enthusiasm won me over. “Mom, Felicia is going to see if it’s okay with her mom, so if it is, can I go, please???” She pleaded. Considering the years we’ve put up with bullies, I could not say no. Besides, it did sound kind of fun. The plan was to go to the “planning” meeting on Tuesday and then go from there.
When I arrived home from work on Tuesday, I reminded the doll about the event. At first she seemed very enthusiastic, until she got off the phone with Felicia. Evidently her mother was more leery about the event and decided against going. “Mom, I don’t want to be the only person I know there…” the doll reasoned with me. “How do you know? You may know a lot of people there…” I countered. “Mom, is it okay if I just go over to Felicia’s and play?” the doll countered. A little disappointed, I said okay.
Fifteen minutes later both girls arrived back at the house having changed their minds. “Felicia it’s okay with your mom?” I asked. “So long as you take us…” she replied. We hurried up, choked down some dinner, then left on this new adventure. What we found were about 40 high school students from various local schools; young men and women, boys and girls all coming together in a “glee” like atmosphere to help other area teens achieve dreams and build self esteem. We were met at the door by Bill Giha, the area director; who in explained “This is America’s Pride. We are a drug and alcohol prevention group working with area teens which empowers peer to peer interactions, through song and dance.”
The doll and Felicia, clearly the youngest kids in attendance, were welcomed to participate and learn about the program. Over the next two hours they were taught some dance routines, listened to kids; not much older than themselves, give testimony about why they were participating in the group, what drove them to become involved and how they all wanted to make a difference. I scanned the room and found kids of all shapes, sizes, colors and nationalities. What drove them to come and try to make a difference is anyone’s guess. But here they were, dancing, laughing, encouraging others while working as a group.
Afterward as we drove home I asked the girls what they thought about the evening. “Mom, I kept looking over at you to see what you thought” the doll began. “Doll, I wondered the same thing about you. Pretty neat huh? How these kids come together to perform these dance routines and then carrying them to other schools to perform…?” I replied. “I was floored by that one girl who sang skyscraper for everyone. Her voice as incredible” Felicia interjected. “Yes and wasn’t it great that her friends stood behind and supported her?” I replied. The girls continued to chat about how awkward they felt from the start, but enjoyed all the encouragement they received from the older kids.
In the end, the girls decided the flash mob wouldn’t work for them–as they didn’t have the dance routine down. Also, the area Halloween parade takes place at the same time. God forbid they miss out on a chance for more candy–but I can’t blame them. I am however impressed they listened to what was being taught to them. My proof was at bedtime when the doll said, “Mom, making a difference in someone’s life seems really fun.” I smiled at her and said, “Doll, every time you smile or say something nice to someone, you’re making a difference in their life. You have had a very blessed life. Some of those kids you met tonight have not…” “Which makes it even better when you see them laughing and dancing so they can.” She interrupted . A moment later she added, “Maybe when I’m in High School I’ll join the group…”
If you would like more information on America’s Pride, please check out their website http://mail.prideyouthprograms.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/info_what-is-pride.pdf