A Safe Place in an Unsafe World
*Author note: This is a heavily revised and updated post from February 2019. The basic premise
has not changed in these four years - however, the state of the world is drastically different.
Beyond free-range and non-coercive, the word I use most often to describe the DRC environment is “safe.” Our student members are building a dynamic, ever-evolving community as new kids join us and others leave, where they learn and grow together. Their only formal guide is our community agreement: Respect yourself, each other, and this place.
Our kids can feel safe to be themselves here because we are all taking care of each other. This agreement is all-encompassing in its simplicity.
When they make that promise to each other at DRC, they hold themselves and each other accountable for their behaviors and actions. And within that, they embrace and celebrate all the quirks and idiosyncrasies that make them amazingly authentic individuals.
Some would say, “But, how is that helping them - won’t they expect to be protected everywhere? You can’t shield them from reality.” I will argue - that isn’t the point! So often, kids unintentionally present themselves as targets because they feel inferior, defeated, or just plain sad. They emit an unconscious signal of defenselessness to those who will, without a second thought, take advantage of their personally perceived weakness.
In our role as mentors, we model curiosity, attentiveness to others, honesty, assertiveness, and confidence that are grounded in kindness, humor, and humility, unselfish personal motivation, and strength that has flexibility - but above all, we encourage them to embrace their gifts and to be gentle, trusting spirits without becoming vulnerable targets. In doing so, we teach them to take responsibility for mistakes and use them as guides. And to respond to bullying with a calm, poised demeanor – to walk away from any maliciously inspired conflict with confidence and compassion.
Then when they go out into that competitive world where some people use manipulation, retaliation, cruelty, and vindictiveness, to “win” life, they can use the lessons they have learned here and (hopefully) be unafraid to navigate (and maybe even change) the world as their purely awesome authentic selves.
* Another note: Sometimes, I worry I have not done enough to help some of the seemingly more vulnerable kids - especially the ones I never felt like I built a meaningful connection with or who never allowed me close enough to connect.
Recently, I saw one of those student members (he was job shadowing the plumber who came to "fix" an issue). I always thought I had failed him. He told me that after he left DRC - he took the GED prep class - and within a few months, passed the GED. He said, "If I had known I could get through HS that easily - I would have done it sooner." In hindsight, I realize that even though I did not directly support him in his endeavors, his years at DRC were, in some sense, valuable because he understood that he was in charge of the next step and all he had to do was take it.
Weekly Creative Meditation
Our Raffle fundraiser is still in full swing - purchase your ticket from any DRC Parent or Board member or get in touch with Maria or Karen.
The DRC year is coming to a close. We will be finishing up the week of May 22nd with celebrations at both Centers. Enjoy the photo dump from this past week.
We had a little sister visit Canton for a few days. She will be joining us in the Fall. Little Sis ate a "zebra cake" while making cupcakes, cracked the eggs for it, went fishing, and generally had a fantastic time with the crew! Let us know if you have a little one who would be interested in checking us out.
Happy Mother's Day to all who have nurtured and supported young people and will continue to do so - most especially my Mom, Sharon, my MIL, Bonnie, and all the other folks who have loved and encouraged me through the years.
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