I did not grow up in the US and I don’t have kids. I have a niece and nephew who live far away. People tend not to ask me to baby sit for them. (I wonder why? Ha!) Truth be told, I am a little scared of “little people” aka “kids.” They are so smart, and they always seem to ask me questions that I cannot answer. I don’t know a lot about American children’s literature and I often feel left out of conversations when people talk about shows they watched as a kid.

Therefore, when Compassionate Atlanta co-sponsored GPB’s event, a birthday party for Mr. Rogers on March 21st, I attended with my own blind spots and prejudices fully in place. I imagined little kids running around me in circles. Little did I know that I was in for a huge treat. I knew so little about Mr. Rogers. I had no idea he was a Presbyterian minister. I had no idea psychologists were consulted for the show. I had no clue about the genius of Mr. Roger’s neighborhood and how he broke many stereotypes with his show. I loved watching the movie about his life. I saw intentionality, discipline and genuine empathy. This was an adult that mastered connecting with children. At that event in March, there were not too many kids present but there were lots of teachers and lots of librarians. There was a palpable reverence for Mr. Roger’s life, as well as his work.

I walked away from that evening wondering about the legacy of compassion that Mr. Rogers has left for the entire world through his work. I wondered what prompted this continuous choice to make this world a better place for young people. His attention to children was remarkable and for me, a wonderful example of how to relate to little children that so often intimidate me with their zest for life, curiosity and innate intelligence.

This Saturday, July 27th, Mr. Roger’s legacy continues. Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) is sponsoring “Be my Neighbor Day with Daniel Tiger” and asked Compassionate Atlanta to join as a co-sponsor. It will start at 10:00 am and will be at the Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA, 2220 Cambellton Road SW, Atlanta, GA 30311. Compassionate Atlanta will be helping make a garden of compassion with flowers that the kids create, giving out love notes and helping make our own love notes to hand out.  All this, as we try and live up to the values and legacy of Mr. Rogers by teaching the kiddos about compassion. 

Given the news reports, global warming, impending elections, and all kinds of scare tactics that the media uses to shock us, we can all use a healthy dose of community with children to remind us that we have a choice: We always have the choice to exercise compassion.

It is that simple. Choose to incorporate compassion into every aspect of your life – your work, the TV shows that your kids watch, the neighborhood events to which you bring the whole family, your words and even how you spend your time on a Saturday morning.

Join us as we exercise our compassion muscle and continue to invest in supporting compassion in the lives of our youngest and most vulnerable population – our children. As you exercise compassion towards children, you will find that you are exercising compassion towards yourself as well. You are leaving the world a better place than you found it and that is a wise choice!

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Iyabo Onipede
Compassion Cultivator/Co-Director 
Compassionate Atlanta

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