(This quick story unfolds as I was in my role as PAPA camp RN and Miles in his as Artistic Director of Seacoast Rep).
“Hey Miles’, I said outside the Pierce Camp Birchmont Infirmary, ‘do you have a minute to talk about Sally?” (I’m changing details to protect privacy etc.”)
“Sure,’ said Miles, what’s going on?”
She is having a hard time connecting with other kids. Some of it is probably due to physical limitations, but maybe some other stuff going on too. He nodded, sensing what I meant. Is there a way to include her in one of the talent shows that will be doable for her physically?
“Hmmmm…sure, let me think”, said Miles.
Less than an hour later I was walking down the hill with Sally. Rehearsals by various groups were going on.
“Hey Sally, Miles booming voice caught our attention, would you be willing to help us with this skit for the show tomorrow? We need someone to walk on and look sad about kids not invited to a dance. It might involve one or two lines. It is a short part and would be really helpful.”
Sally looked up at me and then to Miles who went on to explain that they needed someone to play an important and quick part that she would be perfect for.
We walked closer to the small group. She, hesitated and looked to me, I think for encouragement as one who knew her physical limitations well. I wanted to gently nudge, but not push her and shrugged my shoulders saying something like, “it’s up to you. Might be worth a try?”
Miles, perhaps sensing Sally’s hesitation, “Why not come on over and help us try out the idea?”
“Okay, can’t hurt to try”. And she went over. I walked away thinking, THANK YOU MILES. Thank you for making this one little kid’s experience a priority. And for using your creative thinking and compassion to do it.
Now, I also know that after a little while Sally decided not to participate in the skit. And I guess we have to let go of that. Yet still, the value of being included and choosing not to continue might be important experiences for Sally. I hope so.
I bet Miles hopes so too.
Quite frankly the whole PAPA camp crew was a pleasure to work with because of the shared ideals about acceptance and inclusion.
I join the many others as part of the SRT family in being shocked and saddened that he has been terminated from his job. Something seems very wrong here. This Friday, 9/14 at 7pm outside Seacoast Rep there will be a rally in support of Miles being reinstated. People are asked to wear PAPA shirts if you’ve got them. Make signs and spread the word. I’ll be there.