12 Feb 2017

How a Day at the Park Opened New Doors

You may not realize it, but Black History Month and Park Day changed our lives – yours and mine. Here’s how.

On a beautiful day in the park, very much like the one we just shared, Linda Werner and a bunch of moms were sitting around a picnic table strewn with books. The book covers showed the faces of heroes. Heroes whose strength, faith, and love I had long admired. Heroes whose stories were rarely told to young elementary students. 

I saw them all sitting there, but I ignored the table and the faces of my heroes. I didn’t want to talk about slavery or struggle or sadness. I wanted to have fun talking with other moms, while ignoring my kids. That’s why we have Park Day, isn’t it?

Then, Linda called me over. I couldn’t ignore her, of course. The other moms watched as I scanned the book covers. They were all there – Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King, Jr. But, most of all, Harriet Tubman, who I had admired ever since finding out about her in the 5th grade.

My resolve to “just have fun” was weakening. Linda must have sensed it. What she said next launched the Explorations program. Only none of us knew it yet.

“Why don’t you take these books and read them to your kids? Just write down whatever you do, and we’ll see if other parents want to do it too,” she innocently suggested.

Black History Month was right around the corner. Although I knew and loved these heroes, I hadn’t really shared their beautiful and difficult stories with my young children. So, I said yes.

All month long, my kids and I read inspiring Black History books. Stories about hard realities and powerful truths. Stories about godly heroes.

After we read, I thought of unique ways to make learning come alive. We built the box that Henry “Box” Brown mailed himself to freedom in. We created an Underground Railroad map board. We were inspired by the faith and courage it took to lead others to freedom. Those picture books launched our learning. We found them to be deep and wide enough to explore for many days. We loved learning together, and I wrote down everything we did.

 Six years later, those little ones have grown. But, those books from the picnic table continue to inspire exploration and understanding. Now, you are reading them.

 See, it wasn’t just the story of my family that changed that Park Day, yours did too.

 Thank you for saying yes.

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