Wednesday, December 25, 2019

#WonderWednesday: Jono and CCA Staff Visit J.C. Austin Elementary School

On Monday, December 9, the CCA Staff along with Jono Lancaster visited Lilianna, Abigail, and Joseph Hernandez's school, JC Austin Elementary School in Mesquite, TX. We were escorted by the Assistant Principal, Ms. Jane Freeman and Brie Hernandez, CCA Mom, who was a wonderful advocate making this visit possible! 

Our time at the truly kind and welcoming Austin Elementary was amazing. Three grades (3rd-5th) of 215 students sat rapt with attention for over 50 minutes in assembly - a huge accomplishment in itself, as Jono told his story of growing up hating the way he looked, with bold truth and quite a bit of humor, too. He encouraged them with three stories of people who made an impact on him as a young man - three people who saw him for who he was and made positive comments about his face. He challenged the students that they could be any of those three people to someone - and they may never even know it. The power lies in telling others what you find amazing, special, beautiful and unique about them. They can change someone's whole life with a kind word or a friendly listen.

Then, in the classrooms, the students proved how attentive they actually were, asking follow up questions with incredible detail, heart, and depth. Jono patiently answered them all and encouraged them to speak up and talk to trusted people (teachers, parents, and friends) when things are hard. Bringing the pain to the surface and talking about it is healing; bottling it up inside hurts both the person with the pain and the others who are trying to help them. 

After all the questions were asked, all the classrooms were visited, and all the favorites were compared (what's your favorite food... color... place to go... sport... video game...), Jono left but not before he gave out his own homework assignment!  He told the students that they needed to think of one thing that they are scared to say out loud and to write that down. After taking some time to really think about it, he encouraged them to share it with someone they trusted. The second assignment was to write down something they truly love about themselves and to put that in a special place - a bathroom mirror, a bedroom wall, or maybe their desk, and to look it at daily to remind themselves how special they are to this world!

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