When was the last time you talked to someone for thirty minutes…or even for fifteen minutes without interruption? Without a phone call or text message impeding the flow of words between you and a friend? And if you were able to have such a conversation, how often does it occur? Every once in a while? A few times a year? Can you count on having this type of conversation on a regular basis?
This year I am hoping to have this type of conversations every week. I’m a volunteer with Talk to Children, a special program sponsored by the Mental Health Association (MHA) of South Florida. School counselors identify children who need a special friend. Children who are new to the school or children who are bullied or have few friends. They pair each child with a volunteer who comes to the school for a weekly meeting. During these meetings the adult and child talk or play games or write poetry or tackle math problems – there is no preset agenda. For the volunteer the goal is to grow the relationship and to serve as a trusted friend and mentor to the child.
Each week I’ll pack up my “goodie” bag with crayons, markers, checkers and other forms good old fashioned fun. I’ll leave my tablet and other electronics at home because most kids already have enough exposure to these devices. I’ll meet with three to four kids a week.
Studies have shown that these simple interactions improve children’s classroom performance as well as help children with behavioral problems. I am thrilled about this opportunity and can’t wait to meet my children next month. When I was a child I often craved more adult interaction, which can happen when you have six kids in the family.
When I did my training I immediately thought of how we could all benefit from uninterrupted human interaction each week. I treasure one-on-one time with people, for me it is like breathing fresh air. The loss of face to face communication is a great casualty of our electronic age, but if we make time we can restore it.
Where has time gone? That is something I perpetually hear on Facebook. While we can’t slow down time, we can invest our time in activities that bear fruit in our lives and the lives of others. So enjoy the company of a family member or even a stranger – can you imagine if we had more visitation programs in the nursing homes and other havens for lonely people! We can change the world, a few minutes at a time!