My thoughts and prayers are with the families suffering losses from the mass murder rampages this past week, one of which was at Clackamas Town Center mall where I go mall walking in the winter. The murderer in that case, as it seems almost typical, was a young man who had a troubled youth and home life, but no criminal record or violent past. Something broke within him.
I was a bullied, anxiety-ridden youth. I faced each day with dread. The one ray of light in my school years was going to Outdoor School. This local program sends sixth graders for a week at a local camp, mixing with kids from other schools and learning about nature. As a teen, I served as a counselor. Away from home and school bullies, I made new friends -- I was a likeable person despite what the bullies said, and there could be a happy future. The story ends well -- college was fantastic, I met my husband at my first professional job and I've had a wonderful life.
Several of my walking buddies had the same experience with Outdoor School. Look for programs you can support to get kids and teens out so they can get new perspectives. I donate to our Friends of Outdoor School. You may want to explore Big Brothers/Big Sisters and other youth mentoring programs. These can make a huge difference for kids who may not appear troubled on the surface, but who may be headed towards a dark future.
Take a walk with a youngster or teen. Show them there is more to the world than just their clique and the text messages on their phones. You can literally turn a life around just by taking a walk.
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