Charlotte approached the wall with great hesitation. Her legs went from a fast moving machine, to a stumble and step and stare. She looked at the cargo net and I could see her take a deep breath, her chest heaving with the effort it took to move forward. She secured her foot in the cargo net and then moved her other up, and it didn’t take long until she was at the wall the net led to.
“I can’t!” she cried out, her body freezing like a statue atop the wall, her hands gripping it for dear life and her legs struggling to find steady grounding as people kept clamouring up and over the wall. It was so simple for them, but for Charlotte, it wasn’t so simple.
I climbed to the top of the wall and swung a leg over it, holding on just as Charlotte was. “Okay. We’re going to do this together.” I told her quietly. “On three, you’ll move your leg over the wall so both are on one side.” I counted down and we both swung our legs over. She gripped tighter to the wall, her hands in an uncomfortable position but not willing to budge. “Move one hand. Nice and easy.” I requested. “I wont let you fall.” She moved the hand, breathing still panicked. “Now just climb down, Charlotte. Climb on down.”
She climbed down the ladder carefully, and when her feet hit the ground she laughed with relief and turned around to her greatest supporters for a high five and a hug.
You see, Charlotte is eight. She was one of the many kids who took part in the Spartan Kids Race on Saturday. She walked away from the cargo net wall unscathed, but not long after I saw her again – on the next climbing wall. She was sitting atop it, breathing deep and staring down at her parents. You already know that she got down off that wall, because that’s otherwise she would still be there. But after her moment on the cargo net wall, I hadn’t expected her to take on that next one. She did, though.
Charlotte was one of many, and each of them learned something on that course. Each of them found that they were braver than they imagined, or stronger than they thought, or that they could find simple pleasure in obstacles, or that they could run five laps of a 1.2km course and still be smiling.
In a world that so often tells kids that they can’t, because they’re too little, yesterday some kids learned that they could. In a culture that tells kids that they’re not enough, yesterday they learned that they have more than enough to complete what they set out to do. In a technologically chained world, they spent some time running free and relishing the air rushing in and out of their lungs and their racing heartbeats.
Kids like Charlotte? They’ll run this world one day, with their brave hearts and kind souls and minds that have steely resolve to get it done. Kids like Charlotte? They’re Spartan Kids.
And I got the pleasure of seeing a bit of what they were capable of.