It’s no secret that kids are capable of teaching us valuable lessons, and today is no exception. A warning: this may tug at the heartstrings.
Ava Olsen is a remarkable second-grader from Townville, South Carolina who has endured things no one should ever have to.
In September 2016, Ava was at school enjoying recess with her friend, six-year-old Jacob Hall, when a 14-year-old gunman drove up to the playground and opened fire.
Tragically, Jacob was shot and passed away three days later.
Ava was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following the incident and it was suggested she be home-schooled to help her cope with the anxiety. However, Ava continued to worry for her brother and her friends, who all continued to attend the local elementary school.
The brave and selfless seven-year-old finally decided to pen a letter to the White House:
“Dear Mr. President,” she wrote, before describing the terrible event she had witnessed.
“I heard and saw it all happen and I was very scared. My best friend, Jacob, was shot and died. That made me very sad. I loved him and was going to marry him one day. I hate guns. One ruined my life and took my best friend.”
She went on to ask the president how he could protect children from school shootings, before adding:
“Please, keep kids safe from guns.”
On December 26 of last year, Ava and her family looked through the mail and were surprised to find a manila envelope containing a letter from the White House, complete with the presidential seal.
The letter read:
“Thank you for your letter. It is very brave of you to share your story with me. Mrs. Trump and I are so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, Jacob.”
The reply went on:
“Schools are places where children learn and grow with their friends. Their halls should be free of fear.
“It is my goal as President to make sure that children in America grow up in safe environments, giving them the best opportunity to realise their full potential. I will continue to focus on protecting Americans and improving the safety of our Nation.”
Lastly, the letter read:
“Mrs. Trump and I hold you close in our hearts. We hope you always remember that no matter what may happen, there are so many people in your life who love you, support you, and want to see you fulfil all your dreams.”
A spokeswoman for Trump couldn’t confirm whether or not the president actually wrote the reply (we have our doubts), but she did say that “the president plays a role in correspondence that have been elevated to his desk.”
Either way, the words were kind and made Ava feel better – but only temporarily. The more she thought about it, the more she realised he hadn’t answered her question.
“He didn’t say how he could keep kids safe,” Ava told her mum according to the Washington Post. After some careful thought, she sat down to write a response to Trump’s letter:
“I sometimes still think about that day in my head thinking it will happen again. If you have the time, I have some ideas to help keep kids and schools safe.
“Sometimes people who live through a school shooting have better ideas.”
Ava’s main ideas were to:
- Move schools to safer locations.
- Create safe places for children to run to if a shooting occurs.
- Put playgrounds in the middle of schools, with buildings forming a ring around the outside.
Ava is yet to receive a response, but this amazing young lady can teach us a valuable lesson in the care she shows for her peers, her willingness to fight for change and her enthusiasm for exploring new ideas.