It seems to me…with all the terrible things going on in the world between countries and individual people, when there is a ray of good that shines through all that is bad, it is worth shouting about.
The summer program Stafford Junction is a light beam that should make all who are involved with it glow with satisfaction, pride and hope. This program embodies what President John F. Kennedy meant when he said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
And, in my humble view, Stafford Junction takes this belief and runs with it by partnering with a variety of organizations -- religious, civic and government -- to provide knowledge, fun and hope to area children who otherwise might, through no fault of their own, become lesser achievers or not achieve at all. Or worse, they might, during their summer time off from school, fall prey to the darker things in life.
But instead, Stafford Junction helps children of low income families learn vital subjects, maintain and improve their leaning skills, learn new skills and have fun while sharing and bonding with others who are also growing through this wonderful summer program.
When we see what is happening in major cities around the U.S. where gangs not only cause havoc in communities and introduce evil past-times to other youths including drugs, extortion, sex crimes and murder, Stafford Junction is like a life preserver for our area children.
Make no mistake, all the area children are our children. A village can teach its people good or it can teach evil. Just look at all the South American, African and Middle Eastern countries whose children are in jeopardy.
We can and should have other necessary programs that provide food, clothing and shelter to those who may be struggling but while these are critical they are maintenance programs and lack important components like learning to share, developing a love of and understanding of the importance of learning and most of all, developing a greater sense of hope.
And, they add another important flavor-enhancing ingredient – fun. This ingredient perhaps is a bit of magic in what Stafford Junction accomplishes. It would not be the same if they just required to have the children sit in the same classrooms during the school year and have some well - meaning teacher try to drum things in their heads.
Children need to have new learning experiences not built around grades or required standards. They need to learn how to fly and not get hurt and want to fly again into new places even though they are still called math, science or music. And they need to go to other real places through field trips, and Stafford Junction takes them there.
In addition, by working in a summer camp environment they also learn constructive social skills and hopefully learn that as they succeed they can help others succeed. Their hopes fulfilled can lead to others having hope.
Stafford Junction happens because there are those who care, volunteer and contribute. There are other programs for lower income families that offer hope and help, such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and we should be thankful for these programs and the folks who make them happen.
But when summer comes and kids have nothing to do and no one to help them become healthier, stronger and more productive citizens, they find other things to do like the song from the Music Man tells us… “Trouble, oh we got trouble, Right here in River City! With a capital ‘T.’ And that rhymes with ‘P’ And that stands for…well you know what it stands for…trouble.”
But when they have folks who provide healthy programs like reading, math, science, outdoor activities in a fun-filled atmosphere we could change the words to that song to “Hope, oh we got hope, right here in River City! With a capital “H” and that stands for a bright future for everyone.
The often quoted Chinese proverb: "If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime" can be applied here is several ways. The Stafford Junction program teaches kids how to fish and even lets them enjoy fishing sometimes too.
Everyone in Stafford County should buy into even a little bit of this Stafford Junction citizen building program by calling 540-368-0081 and learn how they can help.
Harvey Gold is a contributing writer at the Stafford County Sun. Reach him at email@example.com.