Great kids are out there
<!– PUBLISH DATE TimeSincePublished(“2007-10-23-04:30:00″,”2007-10-25″,”Oct. 23, 2007”);–> Robert Howard
The Hamilton Spectator
(Oct 23, 2007)
We see vandalism or graffiti, or hear some kid mouthing off to his parents or police, or we read about drunken parties. And we think bad behaviour is what defines today’s youth.
Then we read about Sydney Johnstone, a Grade 5 pupil who had her head shaved in front of a packed auditorium at Woodward Avenue School so that her best friend, who is dealing with leukemia and chemotherapy and hair loss, would not feel so alone.
Doing good deeds as part of a group is admirable, but to put yourself “out there” — to risk teasing or worse — for even the most worthy purpose is extraordinary.
Sydney, who is a pretty child with and without her long tresses, proves what way too many adults have forgotten: that beauty comes from the soul and the spirit, not from the things that adorn us.
And, to be sure, Sydney was not the only one; another schoolmate had his head shaved and also donated his hair for wigs for cancer patients. More than $4,000 has been raised for the Help A Child Smile Foundation.
Then we read about 3,500 students from 60 elementary and secondary Catholic schools in Hamilton who gave up the best part of Sunday — surely the most glorious day of this autumn — to walk a fundraising event for missions in developing countries.
They gathered at Bernie Arbour Stadium on Hamilton Mountain and the rally became a march as they walked from there to Cathedral High School in the lower city, trekking down the rail trail on the way. Oh yes, and they raised $70,000 in the process.
Nancy DiGregorio, a superintendent with the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, is on the money when she talks about how “Our young people are coming to realize there are many people less fortunate than we are. We want to make a better world for them.”
School curriculum in Ontario now, to greater and lesser degrees, informs and encourages students to learn about the “rest” of the world, and helps them develop a global perspective and awareness. This particular event was informed by the Catholic board’s teachings and ended with a mass, but as Sydney and friends illustrate, selfless attitudes and social consciences can be found in all jurisdictions.
Consider Food Not Bombs. A movement that crosses international borders, the Hamilton effort, co-ordinated through a McMaster University social action group, sees free hot meals served at Gore Park on Sunday afternoons. No conditions, no charge, no preaching. Just hot fresh vegetarian food Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, much of it going to people for whom it is the healthiest and best meal of their week.
The students and friends who collect, prepare, cook and serve that food — and Sydney and her schoolmate, and the weekend’s walkers — are examples of the young people who should be getting the attention and praise. Too often, for all sorts of reasons, they don’t get it.
So here today, in this small space, let us say this: Thank you, all of you. You make the world a better place. You make us proud.
Editorials are written by members of the editorial board. They represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the individual author.
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