Okay, okay — what does this have to do with me? I’m working on getting a tour company and Shakespeare in the Park on it’s feet. Youth violence? Health issues?
I’m not the most extreme poster child for the positive affects of the arts and entrepreneurial skills on stemming youth violence and creating a healthier life, but I’m one of them. Probably one of the most common sorts, frankly. I grew up surrounded by violence — both subtle and extraordinary. Mental, physical and sexual abuse was part of life. My health suffered as a consequence.
I’m 47 years old and am a bootstrapper. I’ve wondered this before, but what would life be like for me now if I’d had some structured help along the way? I’ve got some natural talents and smarts, but imagine where I’d be if I’d finished college? If there had been some truly comprehensive programs that I could participate in? I fell in between the societal cracks instead.
I wasn’t violent toward others, so I didn’t get news coverage. I wasn’t beaten up much myself, so I didn’t get emergency room care or a halfway house. I did get placed in a foster home once, but not for long. Instead, I witnessed it all. I absorbed it. I was collateral damage. Beatings, murder, rape, drug abuse. Yes – that was my childhood. And yes – it seriously compromised my health.
For every person in the headlines, there are a dozen more that have their heads and bodies messed up due to their close proximity. Yes, please stop the headliners. Get those kids to put down the guns and fists. But don’t ignore the people around them that they’ve broken just because we’re quiet. We’re not the squeakiest wheels. But we cost more in medical bills than all of them put together.
I turned my life around and it took a lot of work. It took a lot of different people at key times. There were programs, but mostly it was stuff I fell into. Acting in high school. The Ren Faire community later. Working in a bookstore. Alateen. CODA.
I’ve pulled myself out of that hell and continue to be watchful. The tug-of-war is not as extreme by a long shot, but the effects of my upbringing find ways of creeping up every once in a while. I’m grateful for friends and the skill set I’ve finally acquired to deal with them.
I applaud this program. It smacks of Tipping Point smarts. Stop the violence and heal our bodies and souls. I know how I’d do it.
Nothing, Nothing, Nothing has the comprehensive life impact that the arts do. Not sports, not business, nothing. Period.
Give me those kids. Those screwed up, fell in the cracks, needy, damaged kids. It’s not too late. Look at me.
Susan Scot Fry
Update… By the way, I don’t share posts like this with Mom. It would just hurt her and that’s not good. I believe that dealing with the onset of dementia and bad knees is more than enough.
Update… And with the death of Joseph Zilber today, I’d say Milwaukee can use this continuation of his great ideas. Pick a neighborhood (or two in this case) and focus on them. Thank you, Mr. Zilber.