Community Magazine

Generosity and Perseverance – Lessons in Advocacy from a Six-Year-Old and Rubber Bands

By Emily @emily_ladau

Sometimes, I’m reminded of the value of giving and perseverance in the most unexpected ways. This time, the refresher course came in the form of a gift given to me last Saturday by my adorable six-year-old cousin. He recently discovered the extremely popular hobby of making rubber band bracelets on looms (or, in his case, a clever makeshift loom in the form of a broken plastic fork). I’ve seen the bracelets everywhere and it’s apparently the new fun, cool thing to do. After giving my cousin a big hug, I complimented his bracelet (which, I must say, was actually really awesome), to which he responded by promptly taking it off and saying “Here, you can have it!” When I asked if he was sure, and if he had another one, he smiled and said: “I promise! Would I lie to you?” This kind of sweet, innocent, little-kid generosity is something that’s hard to find in people as they get older.

Later in the evening, my cousin settled down next to me and began to make another bracelet. Midway through all the twisting and pulling of the rubber bands, he turned to me, held out the bracelet, and said: “Let me measure if this fits you yet.” He was making me another bracelet in a different design and though it took him three tries to get the correct length, he persevered until it was just right. When he finished, he was so excited to see me wearing both products of his efforts!

All of this may just seem like a cute, silly story, but I believe there’s something deeper to be discerned. Now, using a six-year-old and some rubber band bracelets as a metaphor for activism may be a stretch (pun-intended), but my cousin’s actions can serve as important lessons for all of us. First, I was reminded of how important it is to give without always expecting something in return. Advocacy can be tough, and efforts may not always be recognized, but acknowledgement and reciprocation are not the important things. Rather, the important thing is to work hard and move towards results. In the case of my cousin, when I showed my excitement as a result of receiving the bracelets, that was enough for him.

Second, I was reminded of the value of perseverance. When one change is successfully made (or one bracelet successfully created and given), this doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to be done. Of course, there may be obstacles or bumps in the road that require more effort, but as the sweet story of the bracelets shows, persevering yields amazing results. Persevering can lead you to do something you’re proud of, and it can lead to real positive results for others.

Who knew that a Saturday evening with my family would be cause for reflection? Simple rubber band bracelets made me stop to think about what’s important to me as I work towards positive change and pursuing a career in disability rights advocacy. I’m always grateful for such reminders. So, embrace all the little lessons life has to offer – these are words I wheel by.

rubber band bracelets, cra-z-loom bracelets, loom bracelets, disability rights

Modeling the colorful rubber band bracelets made for me by my cousin.

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