Do children go hungry in America today? Are their home lives chaotic? Do families struggle to get by? Are kids gunned down in the streets by gangs? And are opioids affecting our kids? The answer in too many cases is a definite “yes.”
In 10-year-old Kaylie’s home in eastern Illinois, the River Bend Foodbank has seen numbers rising 30 percent to 40 percent since the recession. She spends time collecting cans on the railroad tracks – earning between two and five cents per can. The hardest part of dealing with her family’s financial difficulties is ignoring hunger in her stomach. “I’m just starving…we don’t get three meals a day.” A published report states that 17 million kids living in U.S. households cannot count on reliably getting enough food.
Sixteen-year-old Daylan of Cleveland anguishes over the deaths of his boyhood friends killed in the streets. He grew up on East 105th Street between Superior and St. Clair avenues (an area also known as “10-5”). He saw a lot of his friends die before they even finished high school. A popular author talks about his “grim future” as a kid and what it feels like to “nearly give up on yourself” and how a “handful of loving people rescued me.”
The 24-year-old son of a northeastern Ohio police chief overdosed on opioids and died. While these are not stories from Appalachia, kids everywhere have similar struggles.
What can we do to help kids throughout this country? Every kid requires food and a stable home environment. To be successful every kid needs to be encouraged; they need confidence, a belief in themselves and the possibility to dream. They need someone to guide them.
A true story that happened in Middlesboro in 1953 is a shining light – both locally and nationally – that shows what small groups of determined people can do to help kids. Eight men who founded the local Little League Baseball program “fed” these boys desire to compete and be better, to gain confidence, to dream, and to believe in themselves.
When Harry Hoe, Roy Stapleton and Cotton Rosenbalm returned from Europe after fighting the Nazis, they turned their attention to the kids of Middlesboro. They gave kids the opportunity to play organized baseball, both white and black kids. Our Middlesboro story can say a lot to kids in our country today about hope. Where is the leadership today who cares about kids? What can you do to answer Harry’s call to “feed” our kids?
Ron Schmidt is the creator and executive director of the film This Field Looks Green To Me soon to be shot on location in Middlesboro and Bowling Green. For movie info: www.thisfieldlooksgreentome.com.