Today, I led 5th grades on the Low Ropes Course. It was a beautiful spring day and the kids were excited to take on new challenges. It was my second group of kids that came through that I noticed one boy shuffling through the line and kept losing his place. His head was down, uncertain. He was lanky, a bit scrappy, but then most boys are at that age. I read his name tag and call out to him to keep in line and reminded the other children that he needed a turn. The Mohawk Walk is a very challenging activity of walking the rope (much like a tightrope walker you see at the circus – only low to the ground). The objective is to get everyone to the end, not just yourself. We were at the beginning stages where everyone is trying to walk the rope on their own and they were just figuring out that they were not going to complete the challenge by themselves when Josh’s turn came up. He hesitated, I encouraged. He stepped on. Cautiously he reached out to me and our eyes met. I realized then, that Josh was mentally handicapped. Now, I usually allow the kids to struggle, to think, to figure things out independently,to share ideas, and ask each other for help. But it seemed to me that Josh’s eyes simply said “Will you be there?” So I walked beside him holding onto his arm -steadying him- as he put one foot in front of the other. When he realized he was quite capable, his head came up and he looked confidently at the end of the rope knowing he was going to make it. His smile is amazing. He said it was hard but with help it was easy! I asked if he would like to help the others make it? To a resounding “Yes!” I posted him at the difficult half way point. No one had made it that far yet. The students were balancing and holding on to each other, extending their arms out to reach towards Josh who happily reached out to help. As more and more students reached out towards him for help, his eyes become brighter. I swear he grew two inches.The whole mood of the group changed from frustration to encouragement. Perspectives changes from inward to outward. The children were encouraging each other and thanking Josh as they continued on to successfully complete the challenge. Everyone was contributing by now, helping each other, working together. They were the only group today to successfully complete the challenge. I had everyone circle up to talk about the experience. “How did it feel to complete the challenge?” I asked. “GREAT!” was the response. I looked at Josh. He said “At first it was hard.” I looked at everyone and asked “Could you do it alone?” Everyone looked at Josh and said “No! We needed help”. And Josh just beamed.
Everyone has something to give that helps someone else along the way. Everyone. When we recognize the strengths of others and let them serve, challenges are met, perspectives change, and everyone succeeds.
*Note: I didn’t get a picture of the kids today. I just found this one online to give you an idea of what the kids were doing. I found the picture at chapelrock.net. It appears they also have a mohawk walk at their low ropes course. Awesome! I will have to get some good pictures next time.