WHAT IF EVERY CHILD HAD A CHEERLEADER?

I wrote, “Hi, my name is Laura” across the front of my race shirt with a sharpie. It was my first marathon and I was taking all the advice I could get.

The advice was simple: People will cheer you by name and you’ll feel fueled by their energy just when you need it most.

I’ll never forget rounding mile 16 and hearing a stranger yell, “GO Laura! You can do it!” She even looked me right in the eye. Every mile after that someone called my name and cheered me on.

These strangers – my angel cheerleaders – lifted me up and even today bring tears of gratitude as I remember them.

Since then, I’ve wished everyone had a cheerleader.

Imagine if a child – when right when finishing a Khan skill seemed impossible –heard from over her shoulder, “You can do it! Don’t give up!”

Or at the moment she is afraid to choose the challenging book over the comfortable one hears from the sidelines of the bookshelves, “You can read the tough one! I know you! Go for it!”

Or just before stepping up to give a speech with shaking knees she hears a whisper from a friend, “You’ve got this! You’ve done the hard work! I’m with you.”

Even if a cheer takes the form of a knowing wink and two thumbs up, wouldn’t it be wonderful in those moments?

As our Eagles hunker down to tackle their Learning Badges, they may not see high kicks and pom pons, but I believe we do have a cheering squad lurking in the corners of our community. We just don’t recognized it in those terms.

It takes one knowing person at the right time to say, “You are one of the special ones.” “I know you can do this.” “I trust you to work it out.” “You’ve got this.”

These words can come from a friend, a peer, an Eagle buddy, a parent, a mentor, a guide. It is the authentic human connection that counts: I see you. I know you. I care.

These simple things do matter when the road looks brutally long and you want to give up.

But then you don’t.

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