Speaking Personally

The desperate urgency to do something
My skin was crawling, and my stomach was churning as I covered last week’s community forum about school safety. The checkerboard tile floor and the aroma of fresh-baked pizza did not add much levity to the very heavy subject at hand: school shootings. 
As a homeschool mom, Thursday night was the very first time I ever thought seriously about school violence in our community.
It was jarring.
I couldn’t manage a single bite of pizza while a pillar of our community explained to the group that there are armed school employees who are trained to treat massive bleeding in children.
After hearing from Officer Moore last Thursday, it is clear to me that the school children of Willow Springs are in the best possible hands if the worst were to happen. The R-IV school district has an absolute treasure in Glen Moore, and I hope we all know how lucky we are to have him. 
To my mind, the most important piece of the threat assessment program at Willow is prevention. There are a variety of mental health support services available at school, and Officer Moore himself spends a considerable amount of time interacting with the students. He is a positive adult in their lives. In some cases, he may be the only positive adult in these kids’ lives.
And I am convinced that this genuine desire to be present to the youth of the community is more effective at keeping our kids safe than all the tactical training in the world. 
As I sat with my thoughts about small coffins and grieving parents, my stinging eyes fired me with a desperate urgency to DO SOMETHING. Don’t we all feel that way?
So here is what I am doing, dear readers. I don’t have tactical training, but I do have words. And I have this platform that I am using to exhort you to take action for good. 
Kids need connection. They need guidance. They need a safe place to land after making bad choices.
What have you done lately to positively influence the youth in our community? To make them feel seen and heard?
Maybe that’s not your gift, and that’s okay. But what have you done to support the people in our community who do have that gift? 
Better yet, have you noticed the droves of new families moving to the area? While the native sons of the Ozarks leave home to seek their fortunes (some never to return), newcomers are filling up the churches and farmhouses seeking to share in the bottled lightning that we possess. And they are bringing their kids.
As a newcomer of only six years’ standing myself, I’ll be the first to tell you it is difficult to make friends here. Our last bastion of small-town American values will suffer and fade away if a large number of the new kids and teens in the area are isolated because no one is inviting their parents to barbecues. 
So here’s my main call to action: adopt one of the new families. Get to know their kids. Show them where to pick blackberries and where to jump into the rivers. They are here because they want what generations of native Ozarkians built: a simple pace of life where you know your neighbors and come together in times of trouble. 
Reader, we are in times of trouble. Children are being murdered in schools, and it’s nothing new. I don’t have a suggestion for the whole problem, but I do think my humble suggestion could work here in Howell County. 
Go forth and love your neighbor, kids and all.
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Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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