Editor's Note: Kids can inspire adults to take action

When my husband complains to me that he has a headache or a sore muscle, he knows the first thing I’m going to say is, “Did you take anything for it?”

If the answer is yes, he took a dose of pain reliever and it didn’t work, he has my sympathy.

If the answer is no, not as much.

I don’t quite get it when people complain about something they have the power to change, but they don’t actually make any move toward changing it. When I was a reporter covering government  meetings, I was puzzled by the people who came to the meeting loudly complaining about a spending cut or new ordinance, because more often than not, I heard nothing but crickets in an empty room at the meeting when the budget was passed or the ordinance was discussed.

On the other side of the coin, I’m a big fan of people who take a proactive approach and try, to paraphrase an old saying, be the change they wish to see in the world. Rather than sigh and say, “Someone should do something about that,” those people square their shoulders and say, “Let’s see what I can do about that.”

When a fifth-grade teacher reached out to me and told me her students had, on their own, asked if they could have a fundraiser to help children their own age in Africa, I jumped on it. This story had not only people being proactive, it was made even better because those people are in elementary school.

This was not a fundraiser that their teachers came up with and assigned to them – it was something they decided they wanted to do. They read letters written to them by children in Uganda and they were moved to action.

The great thing about children, reporter Doug Oleson noted when I assigned the story to him, is that “No one has told them they can’t yet.” They are high on their own potential, their own unlimited future, and are less likely than adults, cowed by our experiences of past failure, to fear jumping in and doing something.

I’m the first to admit I’m no angel of volunteerism. Most weeks, it’s all I can do to take care of all my responsibilities of work and family, to say nothing of volunteering. But I want to do better, and I am grateful for every person who can inspire me. In Genoa, I just found a classroom full.

Enjoy your MidWeek.

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