Caring for a child physically is a well-defined subject. Children need a clean home, appropriate clothing, and nutritious food. Other needs are not as tangible. Perhaps one of the most important intangibles in a child’s life is the need for self-respect based on ability and accomplishment.

In cases where a child has either inadequate support or no support, it can be easy for children to begin to sacrifice self-respect and individually by trying to satisfy someone else’s needs and demands instead of their own. If a child feels alone, and different from everyone else, it can be difficult to even admit that a difference exists. The fear of not having any friends at all because of those differences is a terrifying one. It may seem better — and is certainly easier in some situations — just to go along in order to get along.

But that doesn’t make for healthy development in anyone’s life, child or adult.

By deliberately creating an educational environment where healthy diversity is celebrated and children are taught how to deal constructively with differences, it is possible to teach a different paradigm, one that empowers the child and allows that child to develop necessary skills and begin the long path to real accomplishment.

That path starts by teaching children to have respect for where they come from and what they represent, simply by existing. Everyone has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. An essential part of education is learning what those strengths and weaknesses are as they develop, and discovering interests and passions on a personal level.

This is what Steve Jobs was talking about, before his death October 5, 2011, in his remarkable commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. To find something worth doing, something you coincidentally love, and then to make it your life work is a good recipe for anyone’s life.

Teaching children to value their name and to bring honor to themselves and their family by how they live each day is not outdated idealism. It is one of the most important gifts any parent or teacher can give. By understanding their heritage, children can learn to value where they came from and the stories and experiences that made their very life possible, even if some of the stories are tragic and some of the experiences are hard. By finding their passion, and deliberately choosing to do something good in life, children can take pride in their name. Not all children have access to the same resources. But all children have a name, and they can choose what that name will represent.

The My Name is Mine project focuses on making the connection between someone’s name and a well-lived life, so that when people remember one, they will always remember the other.

Here are a few of our recent My Name is Mine pieces:

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