Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When You Grow Up

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

When You Grow Up

When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Maybe you’re like me, and you’re still working on it. Can you remember what you said when people asked you that question when you were a kid?

It is a more difficult thing to decide now than it used to be. When I was growing up, the choices were extremely limited for a woman. I remember thinking that I wanted to be a teacher, a nurse, or a ballerina. Once in a while, I thought about being a lawyer or a journalist. Now, the world is completely open for women. Young girls look at the world as being totally open to them.

I always tell my children that they never know what they are preparing for in life. When they have had experiences that they questioned, I assured them that there would be some part of it that they would take away that would later be useful. It’s been interesting to observe their development as adults from that perspective, and they have learned to understand what I mean.

Along those same lines, I believe that the primary job of parents is to open doors for their children. Exposing them to life experiences including other cultures and religions, being away from home, the arts, and in depth studies of many subjects through camps and other activities are just a few ways to broaden their horizons.

Sometimes children’s play is their real work. Activities and ideas that they are exposed to as children later become the magnets that pull them into adult interests. The more concepts they are exposed to, the bigger their world becomes and the more choices they will have.

Career education was one of the things schools used to focus on beginning in middle schools. When students chose a career to research, they usually picked one that they thought would pay the highest salary. Often when they explored the education requirements, the daily activities, and the hours required, they were surprised at what they found and quickly changed their minds.

One of the objectives of Port Discover’s mission is to provide kids with opportunities through play that will cause them to think about future careers. Role play with costumes and occupational gear is a part of the new “Getting Off the Ground” exhibit sponsored by Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation and the “Kinetic Kids” exhibit sponsored by the Albemarle Hospital Foundation. Children never get tired of pretending, and the more props and equipment they have, the more realistic the activity becomes.

These two entrepreneurial organizations are investing in the future by providing opportunities for children to imagine themselves as pilots, engineers, meteorologists, aviation technicians, designers, inventors, doctors, nurses, therapists, and pharmacists. We are grateful for the opportunity and resources needed to provide these experiences. Who knows what doors will be opened for these children through their explorations and play?

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