We spend a lot of time talking about role models at our house.
About how to choose one. And, also, how to be one.
Rarely a day goes by wherein the words, “Thank you for being a good role model,” don’t come out of my mouth.
It’s a both a discipline technique (I say it to one when I really just want the Dude acting like a jerk to take notice of his unfavorable behavior and stop it already), and a character building exercise (I want my children to be community role models, and it’s never too young to start).
I think being a role model is a big deal. It makes you powerful. And, like Spiderman can tell you, with great power comes great responsibility.
I want The Dudes to understand that, and I want them to accept that challenge.
To do so, they need guidance and support (I got that), and role models of their own to follow.
So we talk a lot about choosing a good role model. We discuss the traits that make someone a role model (community service, moral fortitude, strength, kindness, being honest and fair), and we talk about those things that sorta just don’t even count (fame).
Without guidance, kids often choose the wrong people to view as role models. That’s how parents find themselves all bent out of shape when famous, rich chicks like Brittney Spears turn 20 and decide to start acting like it by making 20 year old famous, rich chick mistakes.
We teach The Dudes that being famous or talented or pretty or rich really just isn’t enough. It’s about what people do off of the field, away from the stage, that make people worth modeling. We make sure they know that being a role model is a life choice. It’s not something you fall into just because you have good dental genes and really voluminous hair, or because you can dance, or sing, or rush for 100 yards per game (although, whoa, that is impressive).
We think it’s totally cool to enjoy Justin Bieber’s songs and great hair and to adore a certain athlete for their accomplishments on the field or the court. It’s even fine to want to emulate your game play after what you see them doing. But we remind them that how much money you have, how famous you are, or if you were on stage while Miley was twerking her way into pop history is not what role models are made of. Hair awesome, bra size, and bank account aside, when you really break down what being a role model should be, you realize that it’s about good character.
Like our friend, 11 year old Jake Turner.
Jake was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor when he was in first grade. He had surgery that year. The piece of the tumor that remained began to grow again, and he had his second surgery in 3rd grade. Now in 6th grade, Jake continues to receive medical care and MRI’s every 3 months at Children’s National Hospital.
But, when you meet Jake this is what you see…
Smiles, 100% of the time. He is a kid who is full of life. And, he just so happens to be an amazing athlete, with a really big heart.
Jake has been playing baseball for seven years, his team, the LOUYAA Bears, are ranked number 1 in the state of Maryland for 11U baseball for 2013. They won 8 consecutive tournaments. Jake had 50 RBI’s in 55 games, batted over 420, and, to date for 2013 has hit 8 homeruns.
He also uses his athleticism for good; to support people he cares and about and to further brain tumor research too. He competed in his first triathlon in August to honor his friend, 44 year old, BethAnn Telford, who is battling brain cancer and is an Ironman Triathlete. And, after four years of participation, TEAM JAKE TURNER has raised about $15,000 for brain tumor research in the Washington D.C. Race for Hope that he runs every year.
And also, he busts straight A’s in school.
This is why I’m nominating Jake for Sports Illustrated Kids’ SportKid of the Year. Last year, brothers Connor and Cayden Long took home the award (seriously, click the link, watch the video, your heart will burst and/or you’ll cry like a baby) and I think Jake is in the same class.
Know a kid (between 7 & 15) like Jake or Connor and Kayden in your community? Consider nominating him or her for this awesome award. The contest is open for nominations until October 7, 2013.
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