Editor’s Note: Richard Conard, MD served as director of the Remote Area Medical (RAM) event in Bradenton, which the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading was proud to support. The Healthy Readers Initiative of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading focuses on strategies to ensure that children from low-income families are in good health and developing on track at four key milestones in their development.
In “Tears and Laughter,” Kahlil Gibran relates that raising children is like shooting a bow and arrow. The parents are the bow and the children the arrow. Although the parents through all their mentoring and leadership do their best to carefully aim the children in the direction for maximum success, once they let the arrow go, they lose all control.
After I saw one of RAM’s events, I made the resolve to help bring it to Florida. First I created my overall vision of what I wanted as my goals and overall end result – the child, in this case. Then I started defining the skill sets needed to accomplish them, followed by carefully selecting the chairpersons whom I thought would do the best as my subcommittee leaders – or the parents.
By having weekly meetings and further refining what became our shared vision, I realized that I had not created a committee – I had created a very professional, highly competent team. The parents were literally creative in their defining to the smallest detail their tasks and carrying out idea exchange among themselves. The definition of what we wanted the child to be improved with time.
After releasing the bow, I had a very interesting experience. As I went from station to station to oversee the final adjustments, the program took on a life of its own. The patients were cordial, appreciative and thankful and voiced it to all volunteers who were serving them. The volunteers were humbled and very respectful to the patients and their circumstances.
A special bonus to our event was all the organizations that joined in to provide services and products to make the event more meaningful for the patients. As I watched the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading booth, I was gratified to see many examples of what appeared to be renewed bonding between parents and children. As I heard stories from patients and the volunteers, I knew we had all participated to give birth to a beautiful child with the potential to leave a footprint in our community.
My fondest hope now is that this is the beginning of an expanded conversation in our community of how we will deal with our less fortunate – whether the unborn or the most vulnerable senior. I’d like to thank The Patterson Foundation so much for its involvement as we go forward to see that our child matures in a healthy and productive way.