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Tough Kids, Tough Conversations

Your open heart can make any kid not just approachable, but reachable.

Peter Turnley/Corbis

While this boy watched the towers fall, the drug pusher next to him was stabbed to death. Here's a conversation that can help us all work toward ending the cycle of violence.

This article appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of Spirituality & Health. Do you keep thinking how you feel about the Twin Towers?” the teenager said. “Yes. Not all the time. But I talk with friends, our agency volunteers and workers, my family — and with myself. And I decided if I can get die teenagers in our programs to understand their feelings about what happened, their connection to it, it’s a way for me to contribute to people coming together now.” “I got to talk right now?” “Look, let’s try another way: You like to draw. What would you sketch about it? The towers burning? People running away? The firemen rushing in? The smoke?” “Yeah. Okay, I got one. There was this guy in my neighborhood. I could draw him. They called him Walker, but that’s not his name — he was always in a wheelchair. I could draw him in that chair. Everybody knew he sold drugs. After the planes crashed, you could see the smoke from my street. Everyone’s out, watching. I was there — it was the election day holiday, I wasn’t cutting school. While we watched, someone put a knife in Walker. I di …

Allan Luks was executive director of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of New York City in 2002. His books include the ground breaking The Healing Power of Doing Good, which was reissued in paperback.

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