Transitional Living Coordinator of Lima City Schools, Sarah Bowsher, spoke to Lima’s Kiwanis Club on Tuesday about the needs of various children within the Lima city limits, as well as across the nation.
With Lima schools since 2005, Bowsher had initially inherited the title, “Homeless Education Liasion”; however, the name generated backlash from the community.
While many people believe the term “homeless” means “shelterless,” according to Bowsher, that is not always the case. Many children are living in campers in relative’s driveways, in hotel rooms for extended periods of time, or living with a relative in a multigenerational home where tensions can often run high in close quarters.
“It’s not what you picture as going to your grandma’s house where every morning she’s waking up and making you breakfast and baking you cookies after school. … A lot of times, there’s hostility between the parent and the mother,” Bowsher said.
In Bowsher’s position, the educational needs of pupils is first and foremost. Once educational situations are covered, Bowsher then begins looking for housing options for the family. This does not always prove to be an easy feat, Bowsher said, as many qualities of the family must be taken into consideration; is the adult in the family working, if they pay their rent on time, as “landlords are very particular of who they’re going to rent to,” Bowsher said.
There are six circles of community that affect each child’s life, according to Bowsher. Each circle plays a part into the next, creating a ripple-like effect.
The first inner-most circle, is ourselves, as we are most in-control of our self.
“We don’t have to wait for funding programs, we have the power to show up,” Bowsher said.
The second circle is family, and how we plan time to be with our family.
“I have to remember to take time out and be there for them,” she said.
The third circle, neighborhood, stresses the importance of combining, “schools, churches, synagogues, and parks. Where you live at, what’s around you,” she said.
The fourth circle is community; extending invitations to people to connect with the youth.
The fifth circle, the business and government element, ties into consumerism and the ways advertising affects children, such as graphic magazines, and asking the business owner to change his or her advertising ploys to more appropriately reach children.
The sixth outermost circle, encompasses the aspect of elders, “having our elders connect, and having our kids go into nursing homes, or to different community meetings … continuing to connect the people that have been around that are so wise, and share stories with kids, and taking that leap of faith out,” Bowsher said.