Finding your Aha Moment!
December 15th, 2014
Written by Director of Programming Erin Crison (pictured above)
For every person, there is something that grounds them to this earth, something that gives them a sense of belonging, usefulness and competency, something that makes them go “aha.” For me as a child, that “aha” moment came through the pages of a book, and that moment would have never happened without my mother. With all the bookcases in my living room and the totes of even more books in my basement, it amazes me and the people who know me that I was that kid, the kid who couldn’t read in school. I was the child who wasn’t getting it. I was the child that the teachers gave up on.
But not my mom. My mother spent countless hours and ways trying to figure out what was missing for me. Why wasn’t her baby who loved sitting on her grandmother’s lap listening to her read stories reading? And then one day, and I still remember this day, she gave me a copy of the first book I ever read on my own, it was a copy of “The Boxcar Children” – the greatest book ever written. And I had my “aha” moment.
You see, it wasn’t that I couldn’t read, it was that I couldn’t be bothered by the little one word per page beginner books that students were given to read in school. Why would I want to learn to read the word “ball” when there was a picture directly above it? I wasn’t interested, but give me a book about a family of four siblings surviving on their own in a boxcar, and I was hooked. I was so hooked that by the time I was in fifth grade, I was reading high school and beyond reading material.
Books were my “aha” moment. Books were what kept me grounded to reality. They kept me feeling like I belonged even though I spent my childhood changing schools and moving across the country as an Air Force brat.
Now, as a mother, I have seen that “aha” moment in the eyes of my 2-year-old boy every time he picks up a basketball. Every time he is in our Clubs, this little boy marches three feet into our gyms, picks up a full size adult basketball, and launches it confidently towards the baskets. He believes that he is going to make it every time…and some day he will. He has found his “aha” moment.
I have seen these “aha” moments take place within our Club members as well.
When I first started, there was a little boy named Ulises. Ulises is not so little anymore, but seven years ago, he was the little boy who was tagging along and following his big brother through our doors. It was when the Youth Commonwealth first became a Boys & Girls Club. All of the staff were so excited and to celebrate the event we took pictures, a lot of pictures. And Ulises was one of those cute little kids who just looked absolutely adorable on camera. Later on when I got the film developed (No, I did not use a digital camera. Yes, this was a really long time ago.), I noticed that this cute, adorable little boy who took this picture with the staff and 20 other kids had a huge smile on his face, and that if you looked closer this little boy who looked so cute and adorable was flipping the camera off with both hands.
And that was Ulises, super cute and adorable, but was still struggling to find his sense of belonging, his senses of usefulness, his sense of competency, his “aha” moment.
I remember the day that it happened. This little boy had the mouth of a sailor and could tell the best of adults where to go when he was mad. But the first day he stepped into our Art Room, the first day he picked up a pencil and sketched the most amazing picture, the first day our Art Director took that picture and hung it up and praised him for his skill, that was Ulises’ “aha” moment.
I have had the privilege of witnessing and helping hundreds of Club members find their “aha” moments.
I have seen a child who at the age of 11 had already experienced the uncertainty of homelessness, of truly not having a physical place to belong in this world, find his “aha” moment when his fingers touched the keys of a piano.
I have seen a teenager with a volatile home environment have their “aha, I’m home” moment when they arrived at Camp O’Malley for the first time.
I have seen a teenager who society had given up on, a teen who thought their sense of belonging existed in being the “bad kid,” find their “aha” moment when I was able to share with him pictures of food that they had packaged in a Club service event be delivered to Haiti shortly following the devastating earthquake of 2010. I read the words of the Director who delivered that food, telling the youth that they had made a positive difference in someone else’s life, that they can have an impact, that they were heroes. It was a big “aha.”
Every day “aha” moments take place in our Clubs, every day the groundwork for future “aha” moments is laid.
This could not happen without your support.
So this holiday season, I would like to thank you for the past “aha” moments, the present ones, and most importantly the future “aha” moments.
Together we have, and together we will, continue to build “great futures.”