Why Hope Matters For Children And Families In Poverty

August 23, 2017


As a leading provider of therapeutic and education services, Momentous Institute focuses on building and repairing social-emotional health — developing kids who become self-regulated, good communicators, problem-solvers, empathetic, grateful, gritty and optimistic.

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday afternoon is to go downtown to one of the community gathering places and watch children play in the interactive water fountain.  I love to watch them run into the spouts and feel its force of energy as they splash around in the water.  The run, they fall down, they get back up.  When the fountain changes patterns and diminishes its force, the children giggling and jumping watch in hopeful anticipation of the water shooting up from the spout again. Not knowing when or where the next spray of water will be, the children look toward their parents or siblings for cues as to how to negotiate their next move.  As an onlooker, it’s hard to discern the backgrounds of these children–who they are, where they live and the circumstances in which they experience childhood.  Rather, all that is evident is childhood.   While watching the children play, I began to think about the notion that some children, who despite experiencing adversity early in their lives grow up to overcome difficult circumstances.  I wondered about the factors that contributed to their success. I thought about people I know and families I’ve worked with who, despite humble beginnings, were managing their lives successfully. I also reflected on popular figures in the media whose biographies highlight the ways in which they overcame early adversity in their lives.

As I reflected on the stories of these individuals, it occurred to me that a common theme among them was hope. I began to see the various ways in which hope was a highly influential and motivating force in their lives. This kind of hope was not passive—it was not merely wishing for a better life, but was active. It involved thinking, planning, and acting on those thoughts and plans to achieve desired outcomes. It was the driving force that kept them moving despite the adversity and allowed them to adapt and cope in the midst of their circumstances. I’m not alone in this awareness.  Many of us have encountered individuals who have defied the statistics and the conventional wisdom that says if you live here, go to school there or have these parents that the likelihood of success for you is dim.

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