One of the most important things a child needs is to feel accepted by their peers. As parents, it’s something we all want so much for our kids and it’s definitely something to celebrate when we see them being included and feeling that sense of belonging. It’s also what inspired one mom from Collinsville, Oklahoma to post a heartwarming video on Facebook Monday afternoon, which showed her 7-year-old son Asher being invited to play basketball with a group of older boys.
This moment meant the world to Christy Rowden, a mom of four who tells Babble that she adopted her sweet boy from Uganda when he was just 2 years old. She also adopted his 5-year-old sister Mercy from Uganda when she was 3, and has chronicled both of her children’s adoption stories on her blogs, Arms Wide Open and Bring Mercy Home.
Rowden says that living in a community that is “not very racially diverse,” as well as in a society where discrimination still happens, she has naturally been concerned about how her children would be treated.
Rowden tells Babble that on May 21, she and her kids were at Oologah City Park when they saw a bunch of 5th-grade boys playing basketball. Asher, who loves basketball but is slow to warm up to people, stood back and watched for a while. But suddenly, the older boys approached him and introduced themselves, even going so far as to shake Asher’s hand.
Before he knew it, they invited the 7-year-old to shoot hoops with them, and he agreed — despite feeling a bit nervous, according to his mom.
“They were so kind,” Rowden wrote in the caption of her post, which has since gone viral. “They included him by letting him catch and throw the ball and they cheered him on and high-fived him. It seriously brought tears to my eyes.”
Rowden points out that so many kids, as well as adults, live in their own little bubbles and don’t often take the time or opportunity to reach out to those around them — especially when it comes to strangers outside their circle. But the kids that Rowden and her son encountered on the court Monday afternoon were different.
“These boys noticed a little kid on the side line and thought to ask him to play,” says Rowden. “They welcomed Asher like he was one of their team mates. That just made my heart swell.”
Rowden tells Babble that she decided to share the experience because she wanted the parents of those boys to know what a meaningful thing they’d done that day.
She never imagined that her post would reach far beyond their very small community in Green County, Oklahoma, but in just a few short days, it has.
“The response was actually unbelievable,” Rowden tells Babble. “I’m still shocked today that it went viral and is getting so much attention. I attribute it to so much negativity in the news today. It’s kind of refreshing and a rarity to hear a positive news story.”
Rowden hopes that people who watch her video or read about the story will learn from the children who inspired it.
“They made a little boy’s day just by paying attention to him,” she says. “I know it makes me want to be more cognizant of what’s going on around me and reminds me that even little things can make a person feel special.”