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.
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.
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.