“I tell people it was the perfect storm,” said Yasmin Brown, Jordan Brown’s mother, describing her son’s fundraising efforts to support the Richard D. Winter’s Leadership Monument dedicated June 6, 2012 in Normandy, France. The 13 year old Lebanon County boy had been involved in other fundraising efforts, inspired by hearing stories about children in Haiti, and he’d been successful.
But Jordan’s real passion was WWII. “Like many little boys, Jordan liked to play war and so I spent time talking to him about wars, that they weren’t just games.” Jordan’s grandfather had served in WWII. Jordan and his dad watched Band of Brothers together. All of these experiences and ideas fed Jordan’s passion.
“I had read an article in the newspaper that the statue was going to be built and I cut it out for Jordan to read,” said Yasmin. Jordan was inspired and they spent that weekend brainstorming how Jordan might be able to help. “I figured we would bake some cookies. We would sell some lemonade at the end of the driveway,” but Jordan had other ideas.
Nearly $100,000 later, Jordan has inspired many with his “Hang Tough” wristbands, selling them in parades and at events. He’s also learned a great deal about leadership, starting a business, and how to connect others to a cause that is important to him and the community.
“I think people love this story because it is a sweet story about a little boy who cares and I think it helps us all remember that these kids are going to be just fine,” says Yasmin. “I’m his biggest cheerleader. Beyond their grades, we all really want to raise children who have compassion.”
As Jordan’s mom shared about her son, I couldn’t help but think how to inspire this kind of civic-minded commitment in my own children. Are there ways families can inspire this kind of dedication?
According to Yasmin, first, we need to listen “There is no formula. You need to meet your kid where they are.” Really listening to our kids share about things that are important to them and observing them when they are most excited, animated, and focused, help us to understand them.
Next, support their passion. “Jordan is just your average, ordinary kid who likes to play, swim, watch TV. He is also passionate,” said Yasmin. As families, we need to try to see the things that genuinely inspire our kids, not the things we wish would inspire our kids or the things we think should inspire them.
Finally, let them have control. “We just found a way to let him run with that passion. We told him he could stop at any time. He was driving.” Sometimes we say no to our children so often. What would they accomplish if we said yes?
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