Real Voices

It’s Friday afternoon in my home. At the other end of the house, participants in RealVoices of Philadelphia are working on creative writing. In the living room, a student’s mom is working at her computer. I am finishing lunch. 

The morning classes for RVP addressed environmental microbiomes and sewing.  That was a lot more active – and reactive. There were extra hands on deck to support dysregulated bodies as they cut, and practiced sewing a seam with the machine. (Brave teacher!) But this afternoon there’s nothing but a quiet hum from the room where Megan is instructing them in how to create rich and interesting writing.

If the students were not doing these classes what else would they be doing? Possibly taking a walk outside or circling the mall. One more lap. They might be sitting in a room with a TV set. Or running errands with a parent.  If they are lucky they would be with a 1:1 support with a list of activities. If they were more unlucky they could be sitting or standing with a group of other individuals in an adult day care, getting ready for the bus after a day of doing nothing. They might be biting themselves, chewing or ripping objects, flapping arms, vocalizing – coping as best they can with the soul crushing boredom of being an intelligent mind in a world that doesn’t see you are there.

Instead, these young adults are together, learning history, science, mythology, math. They are discussing. They are composing. They are asking questions. They may also be wandering, jumping up, running to the bathroom, needing breaks or walks, or rocking to soothe irritable nervous systems. But while their bodies may continue uncooperative, their minds are free.

Does it matter that human beings are or are not given voice and opportunity to learn? How might we measure the importance of these things?  What is the reason for their learning? Can you put a dollar value on the opening up of the mind? 

I don’t know how to answer those questions. I only know that I am paid back by the excitement in their eyes as they arrive, by the smiles on their faces.

I see you.

If you are interested in supporting the work of RealVoices of Philadelphia, please consider taking part in our current fundraiser. And thank you as always for reading!