Guest column | Embracing 'Kids at Hope' message

What is the message behind “Kids at Hope” in our schools?

Between our college graduates unable to find work and our neighbors forced to vacate their homes, today’s adults are unsure of life’s next simple step, let alone past practices of leaving a great job to take a career risk. Now little Johnny comes home and tells you about hope and the message at school, that “All Kids are Capable of Success, No Exceptions.”

We should be teaching little Johnny about reality, not instilling a message of false hope, I thought to myself. Teaching our children about some fairy tale land where everyone is happy and full of hope is not only insulting to some of us but now we have to worry whether Johnny is getting an adequate education.

As a glass half full thinker and mom of two beautiful boys, I have to admit that my half full approach became a victim of skepticism with this “Kid’ at Hope” message. As an employee of the South Kitsap School District, I have been graced by the endless support that the district offers not only to the students, but staff, parents and the community. Yet, with this message for “all kids,” I just couldn’t overcome the practicality.

Being a single mom for so many years and dealing with the everyday struggles long before any recession, you could say that success for me has been limited, dependent upon one’s interpretation of the word. Many of us adults are active in our children’s schools whether employed, parent, or volunteer and have our very own struggles with the identity of success not to mention feeling a lack of hope.

An opportunity to learn more, explain my view, and somewhat protest the idea, presented itself. The district used a whole team approach to the hopeful child that would attend a local Kids at Hope seminar. The team consisted of teachers, office employees, para-educators, custodians, bus drivers and district administration; I was included and was ecstatic.

I looked around and observed a diverse group of participants. The first day Dr. Robert Maurer, author of “One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way,” spoke on the power within our minds to change our behavior and practices for our own success as defined by years and years of research. I sat entranced while he spoke. You could have tried to pick my jaw up off of the table or disengage my interest in his knowledge; you would have been unsuccessful none the less.

While in small groups I looked around and saw a totally different story unfold than the one that was unknowingly tainted when I first walked in. Some of us were more enthusiastic than others, yet I believe that everyone felt the passion, optimism, and hope. From Rick Miller, founder, president and chief treasure hunter of Kids at Hope to Wally Endicott, executive director, Kids at Hope NW Region, the message was clear. This isn’t just about kids at hope; this is about all of us at hope.

After visiting two practicing Kids at Hope schools and spending some time in the classrooms for most of the following day, it was evident that these adults, teachers and students alike had hope. They were all capable of success and every one of them not only believed it, they were living it.

My glass not only returned to half full, but after the seminar, it was overfilled with a refined understanding of the Kids at Hope belief. This land of hope and happiness is real not just a fairy tale.

Though the message of “Kids at Hope” is being practiced with students and the adults around them whose life is now forever changed, it may fall victim to struggling adults who are feeling less than hopeful for their future. When you see “Kids at Hope,” remember, that we are all kids at heart which makes everyone of us a “Kid at Hope.” Our children are not only capable of success, we all are.


Tricia Sy is a bus driver for South Kitsap School District

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