Fun on the playground

Welcome to another school year, and one that will undoubtedly prove to be unlike any that we’ve seen. I have no doubt that our families, students, staff and community will rise to the challenges ahead.

We have seen many changes to what constitutes a “normal” school year. School activities have also been impacted by these changes. From shortened seasons to seasons being moved, to cancellations and new spectator guidelines, we have all had to make some adjustments. All of this, however, should not impact your child’s ability to stay involved in their school and their community.

During these times, it may be valuable for us to help our students find their purpose. For some, it may feel like they are lost during this time of uncertainty. Staying involved and staying connected is important for our children’s development as a person. The adversities that they may be facing when it comes to school, activities, social life and so on all play a part in shaping who they are.

Being a part of a club, activity, organization, youth group and so on helps our young adults develop coping skills that they can use to take those challenges head on. Having a purpose helps them develop their voice, and in turn they can help others find their voice.

So, how do we go about helping our students find their purpose? One of the first actionable steps is to encourage them to examine their gifts, passions and values. Those three components are crucial to developing their purpose.

The next step is to develop a purpose statement. The Minnesota State High School League has each registered coach and activities director develop their own purpose statement. Through the Why We Play initiative, students are also encouraged to develop their own purpose statement. As students develop their purpose statement, it’s important to realize that their statement will evolve over time. This should not be a one-and-done kind of exercise.

Staying involved and staying connected is not limited to school activities. Hopefully by exploring what our young adults are passionate about, they will realize that there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in their community as well. Part of their development as young adults is realizing where they can use their gifts and talents to help others.

It’s also important to let your child know that they do not have to go at it alone. We all want to belong, and we all want to matter. Through staying involved and staying connected, students will hopefully begin to understand they do belong and they do matter.

Our youth are able to rely on their teachers, their families and their community to help them develop their purpose, and through that they can develop their gifts, passions and values.

As role models, we need to continue to support our young adults on their path to figuring out their purpose during these unprecedented times. By continuing to support them in staying involved and staying connected, we can make it clear that they belong and they matter.

Thayne Johnson is activities director for Hutchinson Public Schools. You, Your Kids & School is a twice-a-month column from Hutchinson Public Schools.

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