Today’s #BeKind21 message is from the southwestern Pennsylvania partners at Just the Way You Are, a collaboration among the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning & Children’s Media, JAMbethekindkid, Inc., and the authors of When You Wonder, You’re Learning.
For more than fifty years, Fred Rogers — the creator and host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — helped us (his “television neighbors”) understand every living being is so much more than the eye can see. What is essential about us, Fred reminded us, cannot be understood by observing the “fancy outsides of life” — our incomes, our possessions, our honors and prizes. If what’s essential about us can’t be determined by our outsides, what can it be determined by?
“It’s you I like,” Fred would often sing. “It’s not the things you wear. It’s not the way you do your hair, but it’s you I like. The way you are right now, the way down deep inside you…It’s you, yourself, it’s you. It’s you I like.”
As educators and learning advocates from Southwestern Pennsylvania — the region Fred called home — we regularly seek guidance from Fred’s deep and simple wisdom and strive to carry that wisdom forward. We also work to learn from our neighbors and colleagues’ invaluable contributions as caring adults in children’s lives. Southwestern Pennsylvanians live Fred’s wisdom every day: from city crossing guards who offer personalized expressions of care to children entering schools to teachers who support children’s learning through service and kindness to others.
Among Fred’s most essential messages was that we, as human beings, learn and grow best through human relationships. Fred believed that the moments of kindness and love we share with others (like our crossing guards and teachers) are not fleeting or surface-level, but rather lasting and transformative exchanges. When addressing audiences, Fred encouraged his listeners to reflect on those formative exchanges in their lives by embracing what Fred called an “invisible gift”: one silent minute to think about “those who have helped you become who you are today.”
Your kindness challenge today: Partake in Fred’s “invisible gift.” Take one silent minute — alone and away from screens and other distractions — to think of those who’ve helped you to become who you are today. Remember, as Fred reminds us, no matter if they are near, far, or have passed away, “if they’ve loved you, and encouraged you, and wanted what was best in life for you, they’re right inside yourself.”
Just the Way You Are
P.S. Invite someone to join the challenge: bornthisway.foundation/bekind21.