What do you say when a child tells you ...
"I cut myself."
"I didn't want to do it - but he made me."
"Heroin makes me feel better."
SEATTLE — The impulse may be to try to save them, to find a way to protect them. To give them a way out. But Rick Stevenson says he has no solutions. Just questions. The magic and the healing happens when the children find their own answers.
Rick is an independent filmmaker who's worked with Meg Ryan, Robert Redford, Christopher Plummer, and many others. But he says his true life's work is with kids you may pass in Seattle and never notice. Kids who bear the scars they made with butcher knives. The harm left by unwanted touch. The escape provided by a spoon and needle.
Back in 2001, Rick started a film project called "School of Life," interviewing children as young as 10. The agreement: once a year they would sit down and talk in front of a camera. He would ask them about their hopes, their dreams, and their nightmares. They would answer, openly and freely.
And years later, when they became adults, they would be able to decide whether this chronicle of their lives would be for their eyes only - or a part of Rick's documentary. He showed them their stories were powerful. They mattered. And there were other kids who needed to hear them.
For the first five years, Rick says he'd cry after just about every interview. The pain and isolation experienced by so many of the kids was overwhelming. But by talking about it, they took control of the script that would become their story, and ultimately their life.
"The world around you is divided between people who are victims and live life as victims -- and people who realize they are the authors of their own story, and they write a new chapter every day."
Rick originally started "School of Life" because his wife wanted him to have a project close to home. They never imagined it would become home.
"You know when you hit your life's work. You just know it."
After the Aurora Bridge crash, people in our area jumped into action, donating hotel rooms, blood, prayers, challenging Seattleites' reputation for being chilly (the "Seattle Freeze"). It inspired me to pass along stories of when we see people in the community coming together, or what I call #SeattleAntifreeze. If you know a story that should be told, let me know.
To read more stories, click on #SeattleAntifreeze.
Cox Media Group