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Kodi Shines! by Folarin Lawrence

So, I watched America’s Got Talent #AGT last night with my kids and witnessed a spectacular triumph with Kodi Lee emerging as the Champion.

My kids, 15+, 13+ and 8 at first were not as thrilled as they were rooting for Detroit Youth Choir, since we are now Michiganders, #PureMichigan! so I got my thinking cap on and did my best ‘Yinka-take’ on the issue.

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Kodi is blind and has Autism Spectrum Disorder. When it was discovered that he loved music at an early stage, that became the one positive coping strategy He maintained against living in this world where a child is ‘boxed-in‘ because of their ‘disability“.

But He was still able to steal the hearts of viewers and voters alike with his silky voice and renditions of classic ballads.

According to his mother,  “We found out that he loved music really early on. He listened and his eyes just went huge, and he started singing, that’s when I was in tears. I realized he’s an entertainer. Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world because when you have autism, it’s really hard to do what everybody else does. It actually has saved his life playing music.”

Ordinarily, He is like a little kid and his affect is typical of someone on the spectrum; but when he gets behind the keys and opens his mouth; It’s like, you have been blessed with the presence of an angel.

There is no doubt in my mind that this young man is not just “special(as the generality of people want to label him) but divinely gifted.

It is also evident in the support of his family and his interaction with his Mom, siblings and Dad. It is obvious that they have spent countless hours working on his “strengths” and his love for music, giving him the courage to go out there and not just thrive but also shine brighter than anyone else.

Each and every child with special needs or not, has been endowed and divinely blessed with unique gifts! ‘and that’s what makes us all SPECIAL.

The high point of the night for me was after he had been announced as the winner and was trying to celebrate and his mother took his stick from him so he can have a happy “tantrum” jumping as high as he dared and clapping with a huge smile on his face.

I challenge parents today to observe closely and find that spark that lights up their child’s imagination and brings them joy of accomplishment, believe me it might be the most mundane task, but when you find it, celebrate it with them every time they work hard or feel faint about it and enjoy watching them blossom.

God’s Peace,

Kevin Folarin Lawrence – is an active member of Man Voice@DCN and “My Child Thrives” – by DCN,  a Developmental Care Network Support Group on What’s App & FACEBOOK for families and caretakers of children on the spectrum/disabilities. He can be reached at kevin@dcnmail.org

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Embracing our Childlike Passion… ‘Show me how you do it!

girl dancingIt’s that time of the year again. Spring-approaching-Summer. Spring is the season of new beginnings. This is the time when fresh buds bloom and animals awaken and the earth seems to come to life again. Gardeners and farmers plant their seeds, temperatures slowly rise and finally, we get the chance to be youthful again! We get to walk barefoot on the beach! We chase after bubbles and ride bicycles till the sun sets on our sweaty backs.

So, have you ever passed by a group of people, they are laughing so hard at a particular joke that you just wished life could have been a little easy on you? Maybe you wished you were part of that witty group. You pass by a couple seriously in love with each other, who really don’t care who is watching or eavesdropping on them and all you can hear is the sweet whispers of their heartbeats pounding together, while literally you’re the one dealing with a mocked-heart attack. Phew!

Can you remember the last time someone actually sent you chuckling or laughing or giggling so hard that even the adult-ness in you couldn’t avoid the teardrop of excitement. Or when was the last time you observed a bunch of teenage girls admiring themselves in their pocket-size mirror, smiling and happy at what they see, while their fully wired-up dentition exhibits pure innocence! Or, a teenage boy who just discovered the sprout of a single strand of hair on his chin and a dot of pimple on his forehead; he is getting all worked up thinking of his juvenescence.

Aha! What about the graceful harmony, priceless joy and beauty of a happy-go-lucky set of freelance singers? You know the ones that are just naturally happy to be singing or dancing just for the fun of it! (‘Another reason why I just love NYC!) No patronizing, No expectation! No reservation! Just entertaining for the fun of being happy! That’s it!

Our childlike passion is that sense of emotion or innocence that radiates deep from inside of us.  It comes from desire, knowledge and deep joy. It is a display of how naïve we could get with the serious-ness of life! No matter how much age catches up on us. Our childlike passion does not have any preconceived notions as they are not yet tainted by experience. The buoyancy or beauty is still present! There’s elation and vibrancy that will always bring out the “kid” in us. No matter what life throws at us, Laughter is still contagious! Amusement is still an effective remedy to cure boredom!

Like in the movie, Patch Adams knows the inner side of healing. A good reminder that some of the most important factors in healing are not high-tech marvels but ordinary factors such as love, compassion, friendship, and hope. And like I usually tell my children, there’s a deep sense of living well when you are truly in love with your passion for life.

So, if you are reading this, ask yourself today. What’s my passion for life? What’s that childlike passion in me? Does it still exist? What’s replaced it? When fear and doubt grows like orange mold that’s infected with life-robbing spores, can my joy be transferred through laughter? I believe that God has given every one of us a great gift to be passionate about something! And it started from childhood. As adults, we might have ignored it in the hustle and bluster of 21st century maneuvering.

Our childlike passion forces and then allows us to go against the very fiber of our personality, regardless of how and where we are in life today. That childlike passion still lurks somewhere within us, waiting to be released, it should not stop us from living life to the fullest. I am hoping someone will be encouraged to embrace their childlike passion and be full of life again. Well, just like the little girl in the picture, that’s how I still do it!

Yours in HOPE as I share Montell Jordan (This is how we do it).

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

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