Look to the Helpers

I remember the morning of September 11, 2001 as if it was yesterday.  That morning was a perfect late-summer morning, and I was happy to be outside welcoming students as they entered our school.  After the final few students entered the building, I headed back to my office.  As I made my way through the building, I was met by our secretary, Pam, and she told me I should find a television.

I spent the next 30 minutes in a state of confusion about what I was seeing, and after the Twin Towers fell, I remember thinking, I am the counselor for 500 elementary students, and I have no idea what to do.

I went to my office, and began to study my bookshelves, hoping something would stand out.  What I found that day became a resource I would use for years to come, and I share the web version today.

Fred Rogers Productions Parent Resources for Tragic Events

In a 1986 syndicated newspaper column, Fred Rogers shared guidance for parents helping children make sense of tragic events.  He wrote,

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

While many are likely familiar with this Fred Rogers quote, you may not have ever taken the time to read the full article.  I encourage you to take the time to use the link above to do so today.  Additionally, I encourage you to take a few moments to talk with children whom you care for about the events of September 11, 2001.  Discuss your shock, fear, and confusion about what you experienced, and then share about the good you saw in people that day, and in the days that followed.

In closing, I will share another favorite resource related to September 11, 2001, and “looking to the helpers.”  Fireboat: The Story of the John J. Harvey is a wonderful picture book about a decommissioned New York City fireboat that was called back into service that day.  Each year since it was published, I have shared this book with my own children as a way to remember and to honor the victims and helpers involved.  Here is a link to a YouTube video reading of the story.



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