What to do in the canoo.

Today isthe day.  I’m at Carlton Lodge an outdooractivities centre and a treat for one hundred people who are in the care systemin North Yorkshire. I will be giving a readingfor them and passing out awards for their achievements over the past year.  It’s an honour to be giving out honours.

I’ve justrealised that Michael Rosen, the childrens poet Laureatte could do somethingfor children in care.  Note to Self.  The square in front of The Golden Fleece isnow transformed. It’s full to bursting with market stalls. It’s diagon alley.At 11am I get a cab Outdoor Activities Centre.

There’syoung people diving from above tree height, on ropes tide to poles. Fifteen orso are struggeling in the lake on a raft. Another lot are in dayglo canooes,others are playing football. I muck in and find myself working, helping peopleget out of their boats, eating barbeque, playing football in the sports hall,talking to the various workers. At the days end I give them a reading andawards are passed out for various achievements. Ienjoy the reading but moreso I enjoy all the other stuff.  I enjoy watching and I enjoy helping.  You can only help if you watch.

It's monumental stuff.  A young fifteen year old is adamant that she won't go in the water on the raft. She says this as she gets onto the raft. In fifteen minutes I see her stern and concentrated face paddeling for dear life shouting at the other paddlers, getting the team to work together. It's a day of a million moments. Young people making on the spot decisions, pushing themselves into unknown waters and learning that they too can swim and find new shores for exploration! It's sort of magical.  "have you done one" I ask a tracksuited teenager whose by the graffiti artist stall. "yeah" he says. "What did you write" I ask. "TFL" he replies "whats that?" I ask "it's a gang" he says. 

They aregiven presents at the days end. Each gets a cool back with goodies in it. And Iwatch them rummage through their bags discovering clocks and tennis balls andsweets and stuff. One boy is looking through his bag very very slowly turningover a present slowly. He’s not thinking about the present. He’s thinking “isthis it”. In comparison with what he’s going through and for all the “celebration” ofthe day,  (and all the really hard work that has gone into it), compared to some ofthe stories these children have to carry (“where is my mother” he may bethinking); compared to this a celebration day and a goody bag is I'm afraid nothing.  Then again maybe he was simply  sad that the day was ending.  

Making a difference doesn't take much. You just have to be there is all.


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