The McAllen, TX, Bright Space: 3 Months Later
by Ileen Henderson, National Director of Bright Spaces
It’s been three months since the Bright Horizons family came together to create and support the Restoring Dignity Bright Space in McAllen, TX. To date, more than 2,500 children have been served with more than 75 per day on average utilizing the Bright Space as they stop for respite on their journey.
Your generosity continues to impact the children through the more than 600 ‘take away toys’ for our older youth to take on their bus journey, and we intend to continue to provide these for another four months. Continuing our support over time for this and for all of our Bright Spaces is key to building strong bonds with our agency partners and ensuring that our influence continues over time.
As we move away from the creation of our Bright Space in McAllen, I have been giving great thought to the importance of long-term volunteer connections with these children who are so on the move. I found this extremely interesting and sensitive paper from a lecture given at a conference that you can read here: Protecting Asylum Seeking Children On The Move. This thought-provoking article articulates beautifully the concept that children seeking asylum move in three dimensions at the same time:
- across geographical borders,
- across time as they grow older, and
- across psychological attitudes and ways to frame their experiences and allow their own story to evolve out of these multi-faceted perspectives.
As the author states so eloquently, “The orchestrated commitment of helpers, whose ethics, skills, and expert knowledge need to be deployed carefully to assist children on the move. The purpose of assistance is in itself, in broad terms, about ensuring such children can generate a sense of being ‘at home’ in safe and durable ways wherever they are located in countries of lifelong settlement.”
I believe our obligation is not just to provide a space for them to play, but to provide an opportunity for an ongoing relationship that can create a new paradigm of what childhood might look like. I believe this speaks to all of our Bright Spaces and emphasizes the importance to all of our volunteers of staying in touch with your Bright Space, following up with Brightening Lives Activities and other volunteer activities that keep the connection alive.
There are so many opportunities for our employees and others to continue the good work in McAllen and across the country. I encourage all of our Bright Horizons volunteers and Connectors to consider how to extend our influence beyond our spaces and build the important bonds that will make an enduring difference in the lives of children.
To learn more about Brightening Lives Activities to support any Bright Space, visit www.brightspaces.org/brighteninglives.