By Nadia Webb.
One of our daughters recently made and sold finger puppets to raise money for Tsunami victims. It seems so often that the most worthwhile causes are funded on bake sales and shoe strings. SENG often seems like it is only a notch further along, thanks to the gift of one kind elderly woman, Mrs. Eugenie Radney.
Supporting the emotional needs of the gifted has been on my mind a lot recently, particularly since I was asked to learn about development and fundraising. Like most of us on the board, my training is in helping children and families directly through clinical practice and teaching. Money has been one of those topics that is connected to “support,” but raising money for gifted services has been likened to “begging for the rich.” (i.e., Gifted children have so much, why do they need more programs, resources, books, teachers, and mentoring? ) Each time I hear that idea, it doesn’t discourage me, it reminds me exactly why SENG exists. Someday potential may always be recognized even when in unlikely packages; someday gifted girls won’t feel they have to “dumb-down” to be attractive and we won’t watch their self-worth tumble during seventh grade; someday bright children with learning disabilities won’t encounter paralyzed educational institutions, but until then SENG has work to do.
Support is about two things, charity and fairness. We don’t give to support SENG because gifted children are so needy (although they often are) we give because we want the level playing field. We believe all children deserve to learn in school and to have an education that is about expanding their horizons rather than limiting them. The fact that most gifted children often enter a school year already knowing two-thirds of the material is a cruel and unacceptable waste of ability. But preventing it requires that parents, counselors, administrators and peers understand and appreciate giftedness and know what can be done.
But there is also an even more fundamental issue of fairness. As a society, we’ve never had a knack for knowing what to do with differences. Part of SENG’s job is to push at stereotypes and create a little more breathing room for people who have to live within them. Part of our job is to remind people that difference isn’t always bad, eccentricity isn’t always pathology, unusual isn’t the same as abnormal, and unfamiliar can even be exciting. At SENG, we want to move beyond glossing over differences or demonizing them – and hopefully, in the end, we will see a soul.
SENG will be there to teach the parents, counselors, teachers, administrators and gifted folks new options, to help run parent groups and teen groups, to post the resources up on the web, and to fund the scholarships and the research. I would like to ask you to consider supporting SENG, tangibly and materially this month. I can’t offer you a bag of homemade brownies in a zip-lock bag, but consider this our web version of a bake sale. I’ve also decided to match contributions made during the month of April up to a total of $1,000. Hopefully that makes up for the brownies.
Nadia Webb is a practicing neuropsychologist, college professor and step-mom. Her term on the SENG Board began in January of 2011.