I’ve had this recurring thought for the past few months that there is a whole section of kids that Smiles From Drew should be helping. We have been blessed enough to help as many kids as we have but normally the kids we help are already signed up for the activity and for one reason or another they need our help. Whatever the reason they have gotten in touch with us to help with the registration fees. But what about those kids that know deep down that there is no way they would ever be able to participate? What about the kids that know that either because of finances or family life that they don’t even dare to think of signing up?

I am hoping that this year these are the children Smiles From Drew can focus on. There are so many children out there, that no matter how the parents try to shield them from the struggles know that their families couldn’t afford it. So what do those kids do? They just never say anything to their parents, they never bring home flyers about the activities. They just silently do without. I know Drew would have been that way. He was just such a caring person and if he knew there was no way I could afford it he wouldn’t even tell me about it. He would take that burden on himself. He would feel that by him not saying anything about the activity he was “helping me”. We need to get to those kids so they don’t have to take that burden on. We need to even for a moment let them be kids and not have to worry about whether or not their family could afford it.

There is a National Organization call The Aspen Institute and they study the effects of sports and social exclusion because of factors out of children’s hands. They have an initiative called Project Play. They want us to “think globally but act locally”. The focus of Project Play to date has been on children ages 6 to 12, who form the base of our sport system, with a shared vision of “an America in which all children have the opportunity to be active through sports.” (https://www.aspenprojectplay.org/) The below statistics don’t take into account the demographics of the children that never get the opportunity to participate in the activities. This study just reflects the percentage of children that are participating. As you can see, in 2016 only 34.6% of children in households that income was under $25,000 were able to participate. That tells me we have a whole slew of kids that Smiles From Drew could be servicing.

My goal is to enlist people to help us find these forgotten children. School counselors, teachers, social workers, and youth leaders. These are all the people are on the front lines with these children and know when and where we can help. Reaching out to these children is going to take all of us to help them. We will need to raise more money. It’s going to be a big a job but Drew would want nothing less of me. I feel this calling to branch out and I know Drew is the one that is pushing me. He has been with me every step of the way in this journey of Smiles. Every single time I have doubted the strength of myself or the ability to keep going with Smiles, Drew sends me a sign. I can picture him beaming that beautiful smile and telling me “Good job Mama but you’re not done”.

So if you know of children that fit this category email me. If you know someone who is a social worker or a contact that you think we should team up together email me. I know deep down this is the path we are supposed to be on and with everyone’s help we can get to those forgotten children and help them feel like a kid again, even if it’s only on the playing field for a little bit.

You can email me at smilesfromdrew@gmail.com. You can always message me on Facebook also. Help me grow Smiles and help these children. Much love to you and thank you so much for always supporting our mission.

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