Glancing out of the office window at Ralph Ulmer Square and Lermond Cove is my go-to when I catch myself overthinking. Observing people pass by helps me refresh my mind. Today was no exception. Watching a group of middle school boys stroll down the street reminded me of a unique request One Community Many Voices (OCMV) received from a group of boys participating in the South Elementary After School Program.

The boys reached out, explaining why they needed help acquiring a punching bag. The OCMV committee, including Jerry Stone, Cam Hedstrom, Lucas Brower, Ibra Moustapher, and myself, pondered over this request. It wasn’t about disagreeing with it but rather feeling saddened by the underlying reasons behind their desire for the punching bag.

Deciding to support the boys, the OCMV committee arranged for a punching bag, safety gear, and training sessions. The generous donations came from our longtime supporter and friend, Hunter Grindle, the owner of Hybrid Fitness, along with David Antell Sr. and Dan Gurney from Phippsburg, ME. The boys used the punching bag not only to release their anger and frustration but also as a signal to their teacher that something was troubling them and they required assistance in discussing it.

While considering how to best assist the after-school program in enhancing the kids’ self-worth, I revisited the insights of Josh Shipp. If you are unaware of Shipp. He was a foster child, class clown, and troublemaker. He was written off, kicked out, and every adult’s worst nightmare. Today, Shipp is a renowned motivational speaker focused on the impact one caring adult can have on a child.

Shipp’s key beliefs that resonate with me are:
• Every kid is 1 decision away from being a statistic.
• Every kid is 1 caring adult away from being a success story.

The After School Program and OCMV, sponsored by Back Cove Yachts, introduced the High-Five Award. This accolade aims to acknowledge a youth’s personal growth in areas such as compassion, attitude, anger management, social skills, seeking help, and self-confidence for their achievements. It serves as a reminder to each child that we see under the surface of their troubles or outbursts. We see what they can be and what they can be is amazing! Because of that – their personal growth and potential are recognized in front of their peers.

We all have the power to make a positive and significant impact on a kid’s life through simple acts of kindness. Do for ONE kid – what you wish you could do for ALL kids. Shipp recommends 3 simple steps to begin with…

Step 1: Find out what they’re into.
Step 2: Spend time doing what matters to them because they matter to you.
Step 3: Your investment of time will lead to influential conversations.

The difference between a statistic and a success story is you.