A Message From Our Executive Director - June 2022
As we close the month of June, many of us are experiencing transitions such as the end of the school year, when we honor a commencement or a new beginning. Like the new year holiday, transitions provide an opportunity to reflect back while looking forward – often with a new resolution or intent as we stand at the threshold of one door that leads to another.
Having attended my own son’s graduation events this month, I appreciated the student speakers who shared their reflections about leaving high school. In one way or the other, several reflected that the measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience – but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy. These young scholars reflected how in recent times they took on challenges – witnessing violence in many forms, a global pandemic, international conflict and war, personal grief and loss, or health challenges – to grow to see themselves as able to take on more challenges and adulthood.
Dr. Martin Luther King understood keenly that facing a challenge is fundamental to our survival. He wrote, “our survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant, and to face the challenge of change.” This is an essential quality for all our growth and development. And so we also celebrate this month the new Juneteenth federal holiday (also a Children’s Institute work holiday) – and its focus on the fight for freedom that remains paramount. We do so while honoring traditions, celebrations, and practices of Black communities - their history, strength and vibrancy, and special resilience leadership to surmount challenges.
As we reflect back on Children’s Institute’s recent efforts in this issue of News and Views, we share some highlights of how our staff has been working to promote such resilience and also celebrate our local communities’ strengths this season. As we celebrate, we also react. We share our experiences as we mourn events and work as communities to be free of racial violence that is a tantamount need in all communities and for our children's complete well-being (e.g., see Grieving Buffalo; Broken Hearts: The Trauma of Racial Violence; and Choose Love.
Such times remind us also of the importance of centering our efforts on both action and scholarship – in tandem – as a means to sustain practices that produce equity in children’s outcomes in communities. We welcome our growth in this aspect of our mission this year – through the creation of a new Data and Science area led by a life course developmental psychology scientist, Joseph McFall, Ph.D., who joined as faculty this winter.
As we look back in this issue of News and Views, we find strength in these all these commencements as we look ahead in our work. Thank you for celebrating with us all these resources and efforts that continue to help children know and see, through play and positive social and emotional development experiences, their own capacities and resources grow and thrive at school, home, and beyond!
–Ann Marie White, Ed.D.