At this location roughly ten years ago. "United Way "Day of Caring" volunteers sit on a pre-school floor, listening to Head Start instructors explain their program. Statistics are grim, and the stories even worse. "Juvenile incarceration rates are lowered but still in double digits", "We have a van that picks the kids up, but only if a parent walks them to the van and buckles them in" and grim but incredibly funny after a teacher explained the pet bird died, a little boy asked "waz he shot?". The crowd of volunteers there was already visibly bothered by the underclass stories and a couple of working moms were bug eyed over the idea of women voluntarily sending their little kids to Head Start when they did not work and stayed at home. We then heard about the "anger room". Not all quotes exact, but the memory is stuck in my mind's filing cabinet.
Instructor: "We'll need one of you to wash and paint the walls of the anger room. Removing furniture and toys shouldn't take long."
28Sherman: "What's the anger room? Is it like a time out room if the kids are bad in class?"
Instructor: "It's a room where kids can express themselves."
28Sherman: "But you called it the anger room."
Instructor: "Because it's a kind of therapy room."
28Sherman: "Then why not call it the therapy room?"
Instructor: "Because kids go there when they are really stressed and we let them act out their anger and frustration."
>keep in mind this is a Head Start, now I had to ask<
28Sherman: "Do they have stuffed animals to hug?"
Instructor: "No, not quite, there are stuffed animals. They have sticks and equipment they can be rougher with in there, so they aren't rough outside the anger room."
>The room was silent. Awkward. I needed an out, and I like to paint<
28Sherman: "I'll volunteer to do that first thing."
Another volunteer and I found a room full of stuffed animals that looked like they were beaten to shit by years worth of weak little kids. The kids had small little carboard tubes, hollow plastic tubes that were collected from other toys that probably had broken down and some toy drum sticks. The Head Start did not want the little kids to think or learn to feel and process their anger. They just wanted them to beat the shit out of a stuffed tiger and get it out of their system. What we never asked was, "what does a kid do to get put into the anger room?" or "how is a 3 year old already this beserk?" I had not thought of the dysfunctional and wasteful Head Start since the last time I told the "Waz he Shot?" perfect punchline a while back.
I thought of it today after reading about the Mayor of Baltimore saying she ordered police to give space for the rioters to destroy, loot and harm citizens and businesses in the city.
I never donated to the United Way ever again.