From late June to late August I work at a camp in Massachusetts for children who’ve had open heart surgery. For three summers I’ve learned more about life from these children than I have anywhere else. At the end of the day though, these children–like all children–deserve the basics of childhood.

This is my much abbreviated list of the freedoms children deserve that I am reasonably unwavering on:

  1. Exploration.
  2. Unscheduled time outdoors.
  3. Shooting stars and fireflies.
  4. Getting soaked in the rain.
  5. Cannonballs in the pool.
  6. Loving adults.
  7. A voice in decisions that affect them.
  8. Music.
  9. Nourishing meals, and a peaceful atmosphere to enjoy them in.
  10. Trust from the adults and space to make personal decisions.

The proof for me is in how much people, of any age, enjoy life when they are allowed these freedoms. I’m lucky to share these freedoms with the amazing kids at Camp Madden. They’ve formed the basis of constitutions, and yet to me it sadly seems these freedoms often get lost when children are concerned. For my part I try to defend these freedoms for children whenever I have the chance. Will you join me?

Remember play!


© Jonathan Iris-Wilbanks and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2011