Dreams are those things that are defined as being the goals we would like to accomplish and achieve; however, unlike goals, dreams can be fanciful, euphoric, and seemingly impractical. Currently, we live in and amongst a society where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The gap is continuing to widen and the attitudes of those who fall along the wayside are continuing to worsen because it seems as though there is little hope for people these days. People just want to be noticed and recognized. People want to live a life where their unique talents and gifts are appreciated. Thus is the topic for my first blog regarding “Playground of Dreams,” an organization whose primary focus is on helping kids and teenagers realize their dreams. POD is unlike any other organization I have ever witnessed, as it thrives on taking action, rather than just speaking about taking action. POD gives the kids a foundation where they can unleash themselves and because the kids are free to express themselves openly with the world, they begin to see that achieving dreams is much more than just a myth; it can be a reality.
The reality of realizing a dream consists of several things: First, an individual must have a foundation where they can let go of the fear and the anxiety that comes with expression. Playground of Dreams provides that foundation for all of their members by visiting schools in and around Los Angeles, CA. They create an environment where openness is allowed and they literally join hands and share the miracles of life with one another. Their structure is based on giving the kids a chance to shine, a chance to share, and an opportunity to be everything they want to be. With an open mind and an open heart, the POD mentors work closely with the kids by helping them to improve their existing talents.
The second thing that comes with realizing a dream is that a person must KNOW that the tools and ability to achieve already exist within them. A majority of the kids who POD serves come from broken homes. Many of the kids grow up in neighborhoods where gangs are prevalent and where horrific things occur all around them throughout their lives. There is validity to the statement that we are ultimately a product of our environments, thus, if we are subjected to violence, abuse, and addiction from a young age, there’s a good chance that we will follow in those footsteps. Thus it is another intention of POD to come in and guide its members in a positive direction so that they can live fulfilling lives. They give the kids a chance to see the brighter side of life by showing them that there is no limit to what a person can accomplish in this life. Ultimately, they instill the kids with hope. They fill the kids with joy by offering them an opportunity to experience what it’s like to live the life of their favorite actors/ actresses, musicians, performers, and people. With a program like POD in the world, things are going to change for the better because POD proves that it is okay to BELIEVE in yourself. When people believe in something, they begin to act upon their beliefs by doing good in the world. When people believe, they feel as though they belong and when we feel as though we belong, we feel special and unique. Our unique abilities and talents are gifts in this world and with each new day, the more we practice doing the things that we love, the better we feel about ourselves. The POD mentors give the kids something to believe in. They allow the kids to discover and explore by doing the things that they love to do. If a kid doesn’t have enough money to purchase a guitar or to pay for singing lessons, the POD mentors respond by giving them a stage and a microphone; a space where they can sing all day without fear. If a kid aspires to be the next Brad Pitt or Meryl Streep, but does not possess the connections or resources it takes to reach such a prestigious level, POD responds by bringing in a professional actor, director, producer, etc. who provides mentorship and support to the kids. Recently, POD hosted an event in Hollywood where a few of Hollywood’s finest, including “Marvel: The Avengers” star, Clark Gregg and musician, Andy Grammer, were just two of the several celebrities in attendance. To make a long story short, POD is changing the lives of the kids they support and mentor by upholding their promises and by doing whatever it takes to make the kid’s dreams come true.
The third thing that comes with realizing a dream may be the hardest thing of all, as in order to realize a dream one must first have a dream to realize. Have you ever asked someone what their dream is? If so, did it seem as though they had a clear idea of what their dream really is? I can’t tell you enough how many times I have asked this question to someone and received a response that appeared to be filled with uncertainty, hesitation, and disbelief. With the responses I have received from people over the years I’ve come to one final conclusion: Many people in our society find themselves in a state of unhappiness and discontent because they don’t have a clearly defined dream or they feel as though they don’t possess the ability to realize their dream. This is where POD truly shines, for they recognize that every single one of us has a dream and even if we don’t think we have a dream, there’s a dream deep down inside of us that is yearning to come out. The kids who are involved with the POD mentorship program are witness to the strength and magic that is the program itself, as they have continued to improve and grow as individuals the longer they stay involved with POD. A kid who may have started out sitting in the back of the room during POD sessions is now the kid who gets up and dances whenever they hear a good song and is a kid who stands up and speaks up about things that bother them, inspire them, and motivate them. Thus is the magic of POD, a place where dreams truly do come true and where dreams manifest themselves over time. One of the best things about POD is that they don’t force anyone to have a dream; rather, they allow the kids to be themselves and because the kids are free to express themselves, their dreams arise naturally.
The year is now 2014 and the futures of those kids who are involved with the POD program are continuing to look brighter and even more promising as time progresses. As POD continues to grow, they are looking for an opportunity to expand their program to other places in the world. They are interested in helping kids from as close as Hollywood, CA to kids in places like Africa. It is my hope that with time, support, and recognition, that POD will continue to expand and will have opportunity to accomplish what they are already accomplishing: Giving hope to those kids who once had little to no hope and helping people everywhere, realize that we are all capable of realizing our dreams. The power lies within us!