I Saw the In My Shoes Exhibit

Last week, I wrote about an exhibit called In My Shoes coming to the Milwaukee Public Library. Today I was able to see the exhibit in person. This exhibit is deigned to inspire meaningful conversations between parents and teens about their challenges and potential to use and abuse substances.

There was a large sign near the exhibit explaining it and one of the things it said was: Before you judge me take a walk in my shoes.

I paused when I read this. Life is hard. Everyone is dealing with something and when I saw these shoes, it really became clear. When I was younger, I thought people abused substances because it was fun. Now as an adult, I obviously know that this is not usually the case. With each shoe, there was a card written by the teen that explained their story a bit.

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Remember the shoes were done by the teens who are in treatment at Rosecrance. The shoes were donated and painted white by the staff. Then the teens created each shoe and wrote a small paragraph about their story. Take a walk in my shoes. As I walked around the exhibit, I noticed an older woman, who I learned later is a grandmother, was also looking at this exhibit. She was shocked and at one point asked me how these kids get drugs. We talked for a bit and she seemed so grateful that when she raised her children in Massachusetts they didn’t have to deal with the pressures of drugs. She mentioned that a few of her grandchildren now live in Milwaukee and are also not dealing with teen substance abuse. I think she’s one in a small pond of people who aren’t dealing with or hearing about teens and substances.

There is one thing about each of the stories written by the teens. They all had hope. I could feel their struggles as I walked around the shoes and I could also feel their hope. I could feel that the work that is being done at Rosecrance is good work and is helping these teens and many others get on the path to health and happiness.

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Please talk to your children about drug abuse. And if you need a place to start, start here. Rosecrance provides a guide to help you start the conversation.

In small print on the side of each story card is one line. It says, “Take a walk in my shoes, it’s not as easy as it looks.”

So true. For all of us.

 

Legal: I am being compensated for writing this post, however the opinions included are my own. I have received messages and images as part of this compensation.

The Reading

I just don’t want to forget mornings like this morning. 

She was dressed and I was a little behind. She sat on her bed and read from the new library book we got. It’s from the We Both Read series. I read a page with a paragraph and she reads a page with a sentence. She read more than I could count and I had a hard time dragging her away. 

We were a little late today because she was reading and I couldn’t get her to quit. This reading stuff is awesome. I hope she never quits. 

An Exhibit: In My Shoes

This week, a very special exhibit will open at the Milwaukee Public Library Central Location.  The exhibit is called “In My Shoes” and I am fascinated by it. I had a wonderful support system from my parents when I was young and also from my high school Sunday School teacher. I remember feeling pressured to use certain substances, but not a lot. I’m not sure if the lack of pressuring was because people knew I would say “no” or if it was because I didn’t run around in the same circles as those who were using certain substances. Yes, I’m talking about drugs. I look back and realize that I was lucky that I didn’t face much pressure. I also look back and realize that the pressure was there and others were using.

In the community in which I now live, I know it will be different for Sydney because it was vastly different for Abby. The life of a adolescent in that last 10 years is much different than it was 19 years ago when I was still in high school. (19 years?!?! How did that happen?!) My step-daughter Abby lost a dear friend to drug abuse while she was just 15, in 2009.

Age 15. Please let that sink in for a minute.

While I understand it’s easy to say something along the lines of “Kids nowadays, that’s just what they do”, I don’t feel that’s right. The “In My Shoes” exhibit is traveling through Milwaukee this April to try to make a difference. This exhibit was launched by Rosecrance to help parents understand what it’s like to be a teen, what pressures they are under and to help parents start the conversation. To help parents take a walk in their child’s shoes. Rosecrance is nationwide not-for-profit provider of substance abuse treatment for teens, adults and families. Located in Rockford, IL, they provide comprehensive care through inpatient and outpatient programs.

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In My Shoes Exhibit. Photo provided by Zeno Group, Inc.

 

This exhibit is traveling to cities throughout the Midwest and I can’t wait to check it out. The shoes were donated by the staff at Rosecrance and painted white. They were then painted and decorated into art by teens who are patients at the Rosecrance adolescent campus in Rockford. The hope is that this exhibit will begin the conversation for parents and teens to talk about substance abuse. Each shoe in the exhibit tells of a teen patient’s story about addiction, recovery and the vision for their future. Art therapy is an important part of the therapy program at Rosecrance.

The “In My Shoes” exhibit will be on display at the Milwaukee Public Library Central location in the Schoenleber Reading Room located at 814 W. Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee from April 1 through April 26 and is open to the public. This exhibit coincides with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence’s Alcohol Awareness month. The 2015 theme is “Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction”. For more information, visit the Rosecrance In My Shoes website and for a parent’s guide to talking to your teen about marijuana, please visit their site for a brochure called Teens & Weed.

At the moment, this doesn’t much matter to me, however I know that peer pressure starts young. While my five year old hasn’t been exposed to drugs, time will fly and I want to be prepared for when that time comes. I want to know that I am arming both of us with the information we need to keep her on a healthy path to her best future.

 

Legal: I am being compensated for writing this post, however the opinions included are my own. I have received messages and images as part of this compensation.

The Unfollow

I’ve never unfollowed as many people and pages as I’ve done this week. It wasn’t you. It was those other people.  There’s something liberating about that Unfollow, Unfriend, or Unlike button. I’m cleaning house and it feels great! I’m getting my social media feeds back to what I want to see instead of what I followed because I was at an event or because something was interesting to me one time. 

I also spent a decent amount of time unliking those movies and books I put in my like section when I first joined Facebook eight years ago. Those likes haven’t changed but I don’t necessarily want to see what those ‘likes’ are posting. I want to spend the time I’m using to view my feeds to see what is relevant to me right now. I’m not sure how much I got rid of on Facebook but I got rid of several hundred on Twitter and just a few on Instagram. I’ve continued to get rid of stuff as I realize that it’s just not relevant to my life anymore. 

I can’t wait to see what a difference this makes to my feeds. It’s likely that The Unfollow will continue because I’m really focused on what it relevant to me. 

No one is safe!