For girls at New Life Children’s Center, nights spent looking through a telescope have been eye-opening. Getting a glimpse of the solar system thousands of miles away has been wondrous for the youth, giving them a new perspective on life and their relationship with it.
New Life Program Manager Edward Smith, whom the girls lovingly nicknamed “Mr. Ed,” was the brainchild behind the telescope activity which started in 2019. He and his family had attended an astronomy night at the local Tye Preston Memorial library. After seeing the telescope and its magnifying capabilities, Mr. Ed thought New Life girls could benefit from a close-up view of faraway objects. “I was never afraid to try something new,” said Mr. Ed. “I had New Life’s support to try these innovative ideas.”
New Life provides a safe, home-like setting for girls 11-17 who experienced trauma earlier in life. At our children’s center girls have a chance to start over, to heal and grow, often through special activities.
Having watched Lisa Brown, New Life’s Director of Volunteer Services, successfully reach out to the community for years, Edward approached the library’s astronomy club. They agreed to loan him their thousand-dollar, Orion 10-inch telescope.
Now, for two weeks every summer, girls who want to participate can look through the telescope Mr. Ed brings. He devotes a night to each of the cottages. Some nights, he builds a fire so the girls can eat s’mores.
Upon first seeing the rings of Saturn or the moon, 240,000 miles away, the girls were shocked, Mr. Ed recalled. “That looks like a rock,” one observed. “That is a rock,” he replied. “There are rocks on the moon.”
Another girl said, “This is real, right?” Edward reminds the girls that what they’re seeing is not a TV show or a movie.
After reflecting on what she’d seen through the telescope, one girl said, “It makes me feel better knowing that I’m so small.” When asked to elaborate, she said, “Sometimes my problems seem so big and there’s nothing else, so my whole world is these problems. But seeing the stars and realizing how big space is makes my problems seem smaller.”
Everyone can play a role in breaking the cycle of child abuse and neglect. For more information on becoming an Upbring partner, visit Upbring.org/Get-Involved.