Yesterday a dozen or so of us participated in the annual United Way Day of Caring. This is the fifth year we’ve participated and every year it’s a good time.
This year we worked at a local elementary school to paint playground games on the sidewalk. I myself am not a great painter. As I type this I still have speckles of paint on my fingers and I’m not sure my shoes will recover. I also think that some of my contributions were far lower than professional standards and only barely acceptable to some of the graphic designers we have, but it was still a good day.
At one point in the day we were painting the counties on a giant map of Utah on the pavement and I noticed that several kids in the kindergarten class were watching me through a chain-link fence that surrounded their little recess area. As I moved back and forth from the paint can to the map, the kids would walk back and forth with me. Watching carefully, I wiped my brow and the kids each wiped their brow.
The game was on.
For the next half hour I forgot about painting and instead played an elongated game where I’d run from side to side, jump up and down, make animal noises and so forth while the kids laughed and mimicked me.
Let me switch gears for a moment here. So, the other day my wife, who works as our Website Manager here at Wavetronix, was driving with our two kids in the back seat when a big SUV ran a red light and came within inches of t-boning our vehicle. Luckily the dude’s vehicle screeched to a halt before touching our car, but it was a close call. Close enough that my four-year-old son wouldn’t have been able to open his door. Everyone is safe.
I thought about that moment when I was playing with these kids. At Wavetronix we are serious about our products and the ability to save lives. Our SmartSensor Advance works to eliminate these type of T-bone crashes that occur when people, caught in the dilemma zone, choose to run red lights. We can’t prevent every crash, but we do prevent a lot of them. I think most of us in the traffic industry take the charge to save lives seriously. This isn’t a glamourous profession but it’s one that makes a real difference in people’s lives.
Going back to the elementary school for a moment. Before we got to work, the Principle came out and told us how bad many of these kids have it. Part of that conversation was captured by reporter Ashley Stilson from the Daily Herald as part of her coverage of the event.
Almost 85 percent of students at the Title I elementary school are on free or reduced lunch, said principal Kim Hawkins. Many students are also English language learners. “When you have people like this that are reaching out to help us, it warms my heart,” Hawkins said. “They’re willing to come and help kids and that’s what this world needs.”
After we painted some of the sidewalk games, the kids came out to recess and treated the hopscotch boards and other games as if they were treasures. They played on them with the type of joy I barely remember having for anything. These kids, many who have hardly anything at home, need people to step forward and help them. It’s as important as creating traffic systems that allow them and their parents to drive safely.
When the teacher of that kindergarten class I was playing with blew her whistle three times, the signal that recess was over, the kids all gave me a high-five through the fence and thanked me for playing with them. One little girl with a permanent mischievous smile told me she wished I could come back every day.
We already work hard in this industry to help people, but often that help comes from behind a computer screen or on the side of the road. Yesterday’s event opened my eyes. Sometimes you need to move beyond that to help people one-on-one. We don’t even have to be part of a big organized event like the United Way’s Day of Caring. Keep your eyes open. Look around for people you can help. See what you can do. Do it.