When I was growing up, we lived in the desert only a few hours drive from the first Disneyland, which was much simpler and less expensive in those days. Since my parents offered their 3 children the choice each year between a birthday party and a trip to Disneyland, we went many times.
Yes, like most other parts of our society, Disneyland has its blind spots and has had its ups and downs, but it has evolved with the times and will keep evolving. And I truly believe that Walt Disney intended that this be, first of all, a place of joy for everyone, especially children. As a teenager, I remember once being thrilled to see Walt Disney walking through one of the attractions at New Orleans Square using a cane and holding hands with a skipping three-year-old girl. No one disturbed them as he was clearly there just as a grandpa taking his grandchild to visit Disneyland!
My all-time favorite attraction has always been the “It’s a Small World After All” boat ride in Fantasyland. Dancing little dolls representing many countries in stereotypical fashion sing joyfully in different languages, “It’s a world of laughter; it’s a world of tears; It’s a world of hope and a world of fears; there’s so much that we share, that it’s time we’re aware, it’s a small world after all!”
The message of that song and sometimes the tune and words have followed me ever since – as I worked as a VISTA Volunteer in Iowa and Nebraska, hitchhiked through Europe, met a Dutchman in Crete and married him two years later in the Hague, raised our family in Santa Cruz and took our kids to visit family and friends in the Netherlands many times, took an 8-month journey with our teenaged children through Europe – and have had the honor of joining amazing people from all over the world to establish and grow Kidpower with a vision that all kids – and people who used to be kids – deserve safety and joy.
A week ago, I was talking on Skype with Fahd, who works as an educational trainer for the government in Saudi Arabia, has a family with three young children, and says his volunteer job is child abuse prevention. A few years ago, Fahd was told about Kidpower by a friend thanks to our long-time supporter and advisor Victor Cheng, who requests a donation to Kidpower in his free CaseInterview videos that have helped many business graduates to find jobs with consulting firms.
Since then, Fahd has been volunteering to translate materials for us into Arabic for our use internationally. On our Skype call, Fahd was interpreting for Hawazin, a director of 60 schools for children ages five to nine, who wants to start a Kidpower Center. Hawazin said that she has been giving workshops about child abuse with parents from her schools. She was inspired to launch a national movement about child abuse prevention after a father called to thank her because her workshop had made him realize that he was harming his kids and had helped him to become a better father.
As I was listening to volumes of excited Arabic on Skype and waiting for Fahd to translate, I kept hearing those dolls singing in my mind, “It’s a small world after all, it’s a small, small world!”
A few days later, I met on Skype with Zeina, who leads Kidpower in Lebanon, including providing services in refugee camps. Zeina is delighted to talk with Hawazin and Fahd in Arabic about their choices for bringing Kidpower services to Saudi Arabia.
Almost weekly, I video-chat with members of our centers and other professionals from all over the world to help them to use Kidpower in their communities. I first got onto Skype thanks to Cornelia, our New Zealand Center Co-Director, who is constantly helping me to expand my world view. We first met over 20 years ago because Cornelia heard about me from Karin in Switzerland. She started reaching out to me by phone from New Zealand, even though it was very expensive at that time, before we were all using the Internet. I kept saying we were too far away and, thankfully, Cornelia persisted until we made a plan for her to come here for training.
Whether you live nearby or far away, whether we speak often or have never spoken personally, I want to thank each and every one of you for your commitment to the safety and well-being of children and adults everywhere – and for never letting me forget that, “Though the oceans are wide and the mountains divide, it’s a small world after all!”
Here’s a video from the “It’s a Small World” ride from Disneyland Paris:
Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International is a global nonprofit leader in providing child protection, positive communication, and personal safety skills for all ages and abilities. Since 1989, Kidpower has protected over 2.5 million children, teens, and adults, including those with special needs, from bullying, abuse, harassment, kidnapping, sexual assault, and other violence through workshops, consultation, and educational resources. Kidpower’s Positive Practice™ Teaching Method coaches each person to be successful in using skills to take charge of their emotional and physical safety and well-being.