Did you ever think?


Who would have thought 30 years ago that one day children would need to be taught how to play? Who would have thought that strategies were necessary to help kids talk with each other, remain focused and relax? We are presently in the midst of a stress and anxiety crisis that is significantly impacting our young people. Perhaps the simplest solutions are necessary to address the situation.


Remember when there was a thing called play

And children did it most everyday

On the swings or chasing a ball

Engaged in fun nearly all

Remember when we spoke face to face

And not so at such hurried pace

A smile, hug or pat on the back

Perhaps two friends walking round a track

Somehow these days have passed from view

For constant quest of something new

With most contacts by computer or phone

Little wonder we now feel alone

Remember lessons when teachers spoke

With skills intended to evoke

Critical thinking through passionate minds

While having time to be quite kind

Remember when imagination reigned

And far off places learners gained

With time left to stare at clouds

Engaging friends, to laugh out loud

Now the pressure for test scores

Has forced our leaders need implore

Students to ride a conveyer belt

Scarce time concerning what was felt Perhaps remembering not long ago

Is something all of us do know

And teaching young people this simple gift

Can cure that which has become bereft

So, let’s remember to take a walk

Spend moments sharing heartfelt talks

Looking neighbors in the eye

These can be done if we try

While there might be no stopping change

Priorities can be re-arranged

We will experience brighter days

If taking time to engage in play We live in a world of extremes. We also live in a world of tweets, media overload and a constant flow of information. These dynamics have caused a number of conflicts as well as wonderful advances. As we hurry though life, taking a brief interlude for play might prove to be a powerful elixir. P.S. Recently, a number of young people have helped me develop a program called ASAPP which teaches children how to recognize and ask for help regarding stress/anxiety. Sometimes the best answers come from kids themselves. While young learners might not be therapists, they can play a huge role in creating an environment that lifts the stigma from mental health concerns.

A frequent contributor to this and other publications, Bob Houghtaling is the director of the East Greenwich Drug Program.


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