What to do in the canoo.

Today is
the day.  I’m at Carlton Lodge an outdoor
activities centre and a treat for one hundred people who are in the care system
in North Yorkshire. I will be giving a reading
for them and passing out awards for their achievements over the past year.  It’s an honour to be giving out honours.

I’ve just
realised that Michael Rosen, the childrens poet Laureatte could do something
for children in care.  Note to Self.  The square in front of The Golden Fleece is
now transformed. It’s full to bursting with market stalls. It’s diagon alley.
At 11am I get a cab Outdoor Activities Centre.

young people diving from above tree height, on ropes tide to poles. Fifteen or
so are struggeling in the lake on a raft. Another lot are in dayglo canooes,
others are playing football. I muck in and find myself working, helping people
get out of their boats, eating barbeque, playing football in the sports hall,
talking to the various workers. At the days end I give them a reading and
awards are passed out for various achievements. I
enjoy the reading but moreso I enjoy all the other stuff.  I enjoy watching and I enjoy helping.  You can only help if you watch.

It's monumental stuff.  A young fifteen year old is adamant that she won't go in the water on the raft. She says this as she gets onto the raft. In fifteen minutes I see her stern and concentrated face paddeling for dear life shouting at the other paddlers, getting the team to work together. It's a day of a million moments. Young people making on the spot decisions, pushing themselves into unknown waters and learning that they too can swim and find new shores for exploration! It's sort of magical.  “have you done one” I ask a tracksuited teenager whose by the graffiti artist stall. “yeah” he says. “What did you write” I ask. “TFL” he replies “whats that?” I ask “it's a gang” he says. 

They are
given presents at the days end. Each gets a cool back with goodies in it. And I
watch them rummage through their bags discovering clocks and tennis balls and
sweets and stuff. One boy is looking through his bag very very slowly turning
over a present slowly. He’s not thinking about the present. He’s thinking “is
this it”. In comparison with what he’s going through and for all the “celebration” of
the day,  (and all the really hard work that has gone into it), compared to some of
the stories these children have to carry (“where is my mother” he may be
thinking); compared to this a celebration day and a goody bag is I'm afraid nothing.  Then again maybe he was simply  sad that the day was ending.  

Making a difference doesn't take much. You just have to be there is all.

1 thought on “What to do in the canoo.

  1. if not a poet, where would life have taken you?
    maybe a “silly” little question as we in life only know what life is, not what it could or should be.
    but i believe an interesting question non the less

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