For The Children is an organization that changed my heart and understanding for the better. I have always been passionate in rooting for the underdog, whether it be in sports or in life. What caught my eye about this organization was the fact that it focused on a population typically forgotten or lost in the shuffle of life: Kids that are not quite small children nor older adolescents. The forgotten age. The underdogs. Because of these, my heart was inclined to join this organization from the start.
I started volunteering for Royal Family KIDS programs when I was young and dedicated my focus, time, and energy into becoming a counselor once I became of age. Throughout training, I realized I had a naive view of the world. After this realization, I was ready to build a heart for much more understanding. The training taught me how to love in ways that safely protect everyone involved. It helped me understand what mental health disparities can look like, and what a triggered response might mean.
While I was a counselor, I had a camper who I was told could have some triggered responses during camp and that these responses might not make sense. The first few days of camp were great, and this sweet camper appeared to be having a lot of fun. Then one night, this camper decided they did not want to attend an activity they had enjoyed the night before. They shouted, refused to move, and required the attention of multiple staff. This reaction confused everyone involved; it was in this moment we recalled our training, which guided us to love this camper well. We patiently took time to understand what was happening with them, how they came to escalate so suddenly, and what they were currently feeling. We were able to sit with them and create a plan of how to move forward. Rather than forcing them to participate, we were able to be present, love and listen well.
This moment, along with many others, had a large impact on me. I found myself becoming increasingly curious about mental health. I wanted to learn tools that would help me better support those I interacted with. This was approximately 7 years ago. Fast forward to now, I work for a mental healthcare company in which I can help many more kiddos by creating opportunities for individuals to learn emotion regulation and how to cope with their experiences; just like the camper I mentioned earlier. For The Children granted me more understanding and curiosity on how to better love those around me. I am forever grateful for the mind-evolving training, heartfelt interactions, and an organization that has changed numerous lives. Through precise and thoughtful training, hands-on experience, and deeply loving hearts, this world will be a better place.
A world of hope. A world of change. A world of love and compassion.
A world established and nurtured For The Children.
-Lauren Behmlander, Volunteer at FTC Midland, MI