Feelings of loneliness, isolation, not being valued or included, a lack of connection, not feeling accepted or treated with kindness and compassion, and a lack of purpose; set the conditions for children to develop anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts as young as elementary school.
Mother Teresa said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Peace begins with a smile. We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”
A man in the 1970’s knew that “terrible poverty” when he desperately asked for a smile on a note that was left behind in his bare apartment before setting out on his last mortal journey to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Most of us know the Great Golden Gate Bridge, it stands as a watery gravestone for the devalued, dis-connected, unloved, and disenfranchised despite the fact it was built for the purpose of connecting two isolated communities, that of Marin County to San Francisco.
Golden Gate Club was born at Bingham High School because of a vice principal and a hall monitor’s recognition of the need for smiles among their students, and opportunities for them to connect to school and peers.
Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Perhaps teaching prosocial behaviors, like that of a SMILE, and giving students the tools to build bridges, will paint a better future for the hearts of students everywhere.