A few weeks ago, I was looking through an old box of memories from my childhood when I found this:
It was a valentine I received when I was probably about 15, given to me by a friend named Rebecca. Rebecca was not a close friend of mine, but she took the time to make this for me and for her other friends. As an awkward, insecure teenager, I was touched that someone would take the time to do this for me. I kept it all these years because it was a nice reminder of how nice it is to feel loved.
After rediscovering this valentine, I decided to pass on the love to the youth I work with in the art program. Dana and I made valentines for each youth – each one personalized with attributes we love about them. They looked like this:
We handed these out at the art group and it was easy to see that they had an effect on the youth. Some youth smiled, some thanked us with hugs, some said they’d keep the valentine forever – while others read the card silently – not knowing how to react to the unfamiliar sentiment.
Years ago someone asked me “Do you love the youth you work with?”
Of course, the answer was yes.
But then they asked “Do the youth know you love them?” – and I wasn’t so sure.
Since being asked that question, I try my best to show the youth that I love them. But sometimes, it’s best to tell them – because they deserve to know for sure.