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The Mastery of Leaders: Misty Castaneda

LaKay Cornell May 5, 2020

Within the child lays the fate of the future.

Maria Montessori

We have all been reminded over the past 6 weeks just how important and amazing our teachers are. Not only are they shaping the minds and spirits of our next generation, but they are doing arguably one of the hardest jobs for the least amount of pay (and sometimes respect). And while this is true at every level, I think there is a special place of honor somewhere for the ones who are teaching Early Childhood Education.

 The people who interact with and teach our wee ones are planting the seeds for what, we hope, will become a life of consciousness, critical thinking, compassion, and creativity. At least that’s what I was hoping every morning when I dropped Emma off at the YMCA in Cambridge, Mass (shout out to Miss Janice who was awesome!).

 One of my least favorite experiences of that time, however, was when Emma was frustrated with another girl in the class and declared on the T going home that she wished everyone in the world was just like her. We argued discussed it the whole 45 minutes home. Finally, I did the thing I swore I would never do. I said, “Emma. This is true because I say it is true. People get to be who they are. Diversity matters. Compassion matters. This just is.”

I’ve often looked back at that moment and thought about why that was the thing that mattered so much to me. Here’s the only conclusion I could come up with. I did not grow up in a world where diversity (of thought, of opinion, of faith, of anything) was respected, let alone celebrated. We were taught to be in the world, but not of the world, which sounds a lot like the doctrine of separate but equal to me, but that’s a whole different piece.

 We were also taught that anyone who did not believe what our church believed would pay the ultimate price for it – eternal damnation. I was just about the same age that Emma was when we had that discussion on the T, and every ounce of my being wanted her to know that it mattered to see other people; to respect other people; to love them for who they are, and to be able to listen to them and hear them.

Which is just one of the reasons I am excited to share the work of Misty Castaneda of For Purpose Kids with you. Misty has created a quarterly subscription box for our youngest of citizens that uses fun and inspiring activities to teach them how to connect to the world by being kind and doing good for others, animals, and the planet. Their purpose is to cultivate empathy, compassion, and purpose that will inspire the next generation of global citizens.

Like other people I have known who have the kind of spirit that encourages them to work with small children, Misty is kind, generous, fun, and full of life. And, although I’ve only interacted with her a few times, she seems to have the very essence of a do this now because we must and figure it out as we go kind of energy.

Mitigating the negative effects of COVID-19 on her own environment, which consists of tomorrow’s leaders, is no different. Very quickly she had the idea to launch a hashtag campaign: #showusthegood. She wanted to encourage this community and their families to share and/or post photos of what they were doing and seeing that was making them smile or that was helping someone else smile.

And this is where true mastery shows up. She did not start a hashtag campaign that encouraged people to post photos of how her products were making them smile. She did not trademark the hashtag and forbid anyone else from using it. She posted it everywhere and encouraged anyone who saw it to share something that was good in the world.

Sure, this was going to help the kids who were using her products feel better. It was also possibly going to help their parents slow down and see joy a little bit. And it was going to do that for as many kids worldwide as would participate.

And that is 100% on brand for For Purpose Kids, whose tagline is Where conversations that matter, begin. Just imagine the conversations across the country – or perhaps around the world – that started because a parent asked their kid to tell them something they saw that day that made them smile or something they did that day that made someone else smile. How different must those dinners or snack times have been from some of the other houses, where people weren’t smiling.

I get that too. I haven’t done a ton of smiling this month. I’ve done a ton of experience every emotion known to humans within a 4 hour time period, but not much of that childlike goodness-seeing smiling. Except, when I interact with my nephew, Wayne, who is an elementary schooler and recently got Gmail. He sends me very strange gifs that made him laugh. He sends me letters that say things like, “I hope Florida isn’t too cold (joke). Monty is awesome.” (Monty is their new dog.) He video chats me and shows me a 50 point slideshow he made and explains each slide to me.

And when I showed him the view from my porch that I was sitting on, he said, “That is one SMALL porch. And I do not say that to be rude. I’m all about that less is more life.”

I laugh over and over; while I’m interacting with him and for hours after while I tell everyone who knows him all the amazing things he did that made me laugh. And then I say the kind of things that I’ve always said about Emma and many other kids I’ve had the pleasure to get to know:

The world might be okay if kids like him are running it one day. It gives me hope. 

Misty is working hard to make sure that is the case!

Not long after she posted her campaign, I saw someone else doing something that seemed really similar, so naturally, I connected them. While the other womxn was excited to figure out how to collaborate, the toy company that was sponsoring her was not. They shut it down telling her the brands where too similar and they couldn’t support their competition. This is a major toy company with 286,000 followers on Instagram. Seems – well, I almost said it seems silly, but I don’t think we should use silly in a derogatory way anymore since being silly is awesome and can literally change the world!

So I’ll just say it’s unacceptable. Raising global citizens, just like all the rest of world change, requires all of us, collaborating. It requires the spirit of abundance that is evident in everything Misty does.

Misty told me that one of the reasons she started For Purpose Kids is that when her son grows up and learns the history of this time in our country if he asks what she did to make it better, she wants to have an answer. Talk about a conversation that matters. It’s the sign of a conscious parent, a critically thinking progressive, a compassionate person, and a creative problem-solver that would want to be prepared for that conversation and believes it is likely to happen one day.

Although I’d put money on a bet that he won’t have to. I suspect her legacy is just beginning and he, along with the rest of the world, will know exactly what she did to create change.

Misty Castaneda is using her optimism, her patience, and her dedication to be sure the next generation of citizens feel connected to each other and our world. Through the joy of a subscription box arriving in the mail and happiness of activities designed just for them, she is creating kids that show us the good every day.

Visit For Purpose Kids today to order your first box for that special wee one in your life. 

Equity and Inclusion / Social Entrepreneurship
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