Today was incredible.
I want to tell you all the details and reasons why, but security and privacy for the families here on this deployment is extremely important. I cannot tell you all the things our team has been able to be a part of or specific situations that we have been able to have an impact with, but I will tell you what I can.
We have set up a play space at the Family Assistance Center which is in the huge football and soccer stadium here.
The reason is that they are able to securely control and monitor the area. It is heavily guarded at every corner and door/gate. No one who is not authorized and fully screened is allowed on the premises including (especially) the media. The FBI and all sorts of other police are very present.
Our play space is in a corner of the room where several groups/organizations have tables to meet with and provide all sorts of types of assistance for the adults on many different practical and emotional levels.
I spent a couple hours with a few school aged kids in our space and watched -and gently guided them to realizing that they had something big in common. They had no idea who each other was and I watched them go from withdrawn/timid kids to looking at each other in amazement when they discovered that they are not “the only ones”. I watched their disinterest turn to disbelief which turned to relief and then turned to complete giddy-ness all while we simply played together. These kids shared their stories and formed a bond with each other so deep that they (we) began to just be completely silly and giddy. The kind of silliness you experience with your siblings or best friends. We had so much fun – but, of course, it was deeper than fun.
So yes, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to be anywhere right now but here.
Two certified child life specialists on this team (full team pic another day).