The Rose-Colored Glasses Of Youth
Feb 27, 2013
I can still remember the rose-colored glasses I wore as a child.
No. Not real glasses.
The kind that made you believe that you could do anything. The kind that made you believe that you – alone with your good intentions – could solve the world’s problems.
Back then, I dreamed of traveling the world to help people who were less fortunate than I. Perhaps it began with my grandmother, a tiny but tough Italian woman who would sternly demand that I finish all the food on my plate “because children in Africa were starving.” I’m sure her intent was to get me to eat. It’s hard to believe looking at me now, but I was short and skinny back then, and despite my healthy appetite I may have looked a bit malnourished. Every time she would utter something about starving children I became convinced that I needed to help. But I wanted to do something more than just eat my vegetables.
Like all children, I eventually grew up. My path led me in ways I hadn’t expected. And while I adore my life as a wife and a mother, I somehow lost those rose-colored glasses through the ten plus years of pregnancy, breastfeeding, diaper changes and sleepless nights.
Now, as a mother to five children, I realize that I’m in a unique position to inspire the next generation. My hope is that my children, and the others of their generation, will impact this world in ways I’ve yet to imagine. Each day, as I encourage them to be the change they wish to see in this world, I try to do the same. I don’t want them to simply accept things for the way they are. I did that for way too long. And I don’t want them to lose those rose-colored glasses, like I had done. I try to remind them that their simple optimism is what inspires me to push through the many obstacles and challenges of my own adult life.
In fact, shortly after I completed my Shot@Life champion training last year, I enthusiastically shared with them all that I had learned. I explained that a child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented with a vaccine. And I told them that if we could expand access to vaccines, we could prevent 1.5 million child deaths each year. They looked at me with that “What are we waiting for?” stare and they immediately asked how they could help.
We planned a Shot@Life presentation at their school to raise funds and awareness. Now, since we’ve since moved to another state, we’re preparing to visit their new schools to generate even more interest for the cause. But do you know what inspires me the most? Hearing the responses of these passionate children and watching as they visualize a better world through those beautiful rose-colored glasses.
Interestingly enough, in preparing for our presentation I came across a video featuring a very popular band known as One Direction. If you have a pre-teen girl in your life, as I do, you may already know that this band has millions of fans. In this video the band members do a fabulous job of putting a human face on the needless suffering of children. They are filmed visiting a health clinic in Africa where they meet several children who are stricken with vaccine preventable diseases. It’s clear to see how they are emotionally touched by the suffering they encounter.
I’ll admit that sometimes celebrities and pop stars prove to be less than perfect role models. But then there are times, as I’ve seen with this video, that fame can bring attention to important issues – especially among the youth of our world. By sharing videos like this one, perhaps we can introduce the need for global vaccines to an entirely new and younger generation – a generation who sees beyond the obstacles. A generation which refuses to accept the status quo. A generation that looks at the world through those rose-colored glasses and feels empowered to help us conquer these challenges today, sparing the loss of lives tomorrow.
Please do what you can to support global vaccine access and share the cause with the next generation. Visit the Shot@Life website for more information on how you can help.
This guest post was written by Alethea Mshar out of concern for her son Ben. A version of this post originally appeared on her blog Ben’s Writing, Running Mom. Like all parents, my child’s health...
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