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Should We Really Give Every Kid An Award?

Meredith Polsky

Should we really give every kid an award?There’s an important blog post making its rounds on the internet. Maybe you’ve seen it. It’s called “For All the Parents Whose Kid Won’t Get an Award” and it was written by faith blogger Sara Borgstede. Read the whole article, it’s worth it. But here’s a little sample:

“There should be an award for the kids who are brave enough to get up and go to school the next day, when the day before they were bullied, or spent the day in the principal’s office, or got an F on a test.

There should be an award for the kids who graduate from high school while juggling school work, caring for siblings, and working a fast food job to help support a family struggling to make ends meet.

There should be an award for the kids who go to therapy to talk about their problems. Lots of adults are too chicken to go.”

The gist of her post is that there are many wonderful reasons to celebrate our children. And yet, she cautions us, too. Who are the children that don’t win awards? What is our responsibility to them? How does it feel to be the ones who don’t “win”?

As an organization that advocates for the full inclusion of individuals with disabilities in Jewish schools, synagogues, camps and other organizations, we know that there are countless milestones and accomplishments…and we also know that the vast majority of them will go uncelebrated.

And yet, there needs to be a balance. Because the same people for whom this article resonates are also likely to say that giving every child an award is no better. We devalue true accomplishment when we give everyone an award.

So how do we do it? How do we strike the right balance. How can we navigate our way through award season, and through the rest of our inclusive lives, recognizing that there are so many other reasons to celebrate?

Food for thought, to be sure. But so grateful that Sara wrote this piece and got me thinking.

Lisa Friedman Lisa Friedman is Matan’s Manager of Social Media and Alumni Networks. She is also an Education Director at a Reform congregation in Central New Jersey where she oversees the synagogue’s and religious school’s inclusive practice.


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