Fred Rogers grew up in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The majority of the magic he created and sprinkled into our collective childhood was filmed not too far away in Pittsburgh. I often think of the millions of children Fred served – and truly, authentically loved – through television screens. Where are they now? What have they become?
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Dana Winters recently. She’s the executive director of the Fred Rogers Institute in Latrobe and has been charged with carrying on Fred’s legacy there. As we talked about the institute’s mission – to support professionals as they support children and families – I was struck that not only was THIS the legacy Mr. Rogers created, but that he had also mentored those professionals from the very beginning.
In so many cases, these helpers (you and I) were once the preschoolers gathered around their living rooms for a walk around Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood and into the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. YOU are his legacy.
Before Mr. Rogers left this earth, he wanted to make sure that his work continued. He did that by establishing the institute, but he actually laid the foundation long before the official groundbreaking. He began with you.
Such is the case for each of us. Our work, our legacy, begins with the love and care we pour into the people around us. They carry a piece of us into the future, just as we carry our Neighborhood friend with us.
I was struck by this Fred Rogers quote:
“I’ll never forget the sense of wholeness I felt when I finally realized what in fact I really was: not just a writer or a language buff or a student of human development or a telecommunicator, but I was someone who could use every talent that had ever been given to me in the service of children and their families.”
Thank you for all that YOU do, using every talent you have, in the service of children and their families.
YOU are Mr. Rogers’ legacy.