There is one universal truth we’ve discovered in our nearly two years of creating Imagine When… statements in our community:
Kids. Just. Get. It.
Our process goes something like this: whenever we gather, we begin our time together by dreaming. We begin with two words, “Imagine When…” and then we write whatever we’re dreaming of.
For most adults, the first time is a challenge. Adults seek parameters, “What am I supposed to write? Is this about me or about Winston-Salem or what? Can I really write anything? What if I can’t think of something, what do I do then?” There’s a lot of self-conscious giggling. The most heartbreaking response we hear, and the catalyst for this important Work we do in the world, is this, “I don’t know what my dreams are…”
Adults, too often, lose track of their dreams along the way. Their dreaming muscles atrophy.
Kids, however, just get it. Last night I hung out with the boys and girls of BOTSO/LOTSO (Brothers/Ladies Organized to Serve Others), an evening mentoring program organized by Win-Win Resolutions in Greensboro, NC. When I asked them to create their Imagine When… statements, the only question asked was, “Is this like nighttime dreaming or daytime dreaming?” And then, heads down, markers flying, dreams activated.
The boys dreamed of race cars, skate parks, being successful businessmen someday. The girls dreamed of education: obtaining doctorate and masters’ degrees. As an educated lass myself, I admit I appreciated those dreams the most.
The best part of the night: each kid stood up at the front of the room and read their dreams out loud. We coached them: say your name. State your dream. Say it loud enough to reach the back of the room. Stand up straight. Head held high.
Here is what I want for these kids, and for kids everywhere: to understand that their dreams and their voices matter. Matter deeply. Matter for the sake of their futures, for their happiness, and for my future, too.
Most of these kids are right at the edge of adulthood, or rapidly nearing it. They are reaching the age of self-consciousness, when dreaming becomes stifled in an effort to conform. To appear cool and blase. When cynicism replaces idealism because cynicism is safer. Cynicism involves no emotional risk.
I want bright futures for these kids. I feel this work matters more than anything else I do. Because someday, when they’re adults, and they are asked what their dreams are, I want them to know the answer.
And I want them to be able to declare their dreams with certainty, with pride, and with conviction. And most of all, with joy.
This Imagination Installation Blog Post was written by Dr. Cyndi Briggs, TED Talk Presenter, author, educator, business creativity consultant and maker of ruckuses, who lives and works in Winston-Salem, NC. Cyndi loves to blog and travel the world. You can read more of her writing on, The Sophia Project. When she’s not writing, you can find Cyndi out salsa dancing or running with her dog, Daisy.