How I Met My Hero, Janusz Korczak
I have been a pediatric physical therapist for over 30 years, working in an outpatient setting of a pediatric hospital in the inner city. I work with children with special needs, and with parents in poverty. My specialty is in the developmental needs of children.
I first became aware of Dr. Korczak about 15 years ago, and immediately felt a personal bond with him as an educator and as a physician. I have read The King of Children, How to Love a Child, and am currently rereading The Ghetto Diary.
Working with children in a medical facility, I was especially moved by the story in which Korczak took his medical students into a classroom where a child stood behind an X-ray machine. Korczak told his students: “When you have had a bad day in the clinic, when the children you are treating are getting on your nerves, remember what you are seeing today: the beating heart of a frightened child.” I try to keep these words in mind as I go through my busy day; they help me keep my focus where it should be: on the child and family I am serving. A hospital can be a very frightening place for a child. I am fortunate that my job involves helping them experience the joy of play and movement. They can enjoy being children again!
The children I serve face many of the same dangers that Korczak’s kids faced: poverty, disease, disability and violence. Sometimes I feel like I am struggling to do all I can to keep the children off those trains. Like Korczak, I have a strong community of support; unlike Korczak, I have many more resources available to help these children. Reading Korczak’s diary helps me appreciate and use all that I have to help them. His diary also shows me that children can teach me very valuable lessons!
I think kids today have the same need for care and respect as they had in Korczak’s day. I also think that adults have the same needs as they did as children. When we can connect to each other honestly, as children do, we can be happier and build a more peaceful world, and we can help our children grow into peaceful, healthy adults.
I am so glad to have found this community of people who have a passion for learning, sharing and promoting Korczak’s legacy for future generations!
To reach Pam, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.