Edgar’s Empathy for Underprivileged Children

Edgar and Judith Brown October 2, 2017

How Empathy Ignited a Need to Work with Underprivileged Children in Edgar’s Life


underprivileged children


There are very few people who can, with certainty, point to a particular event which shaped their lives. According to Edgar, his inclination toward his career in education took roots in his sophomore year in high school when he moved with his parents to 310 West 7th Street in Sedalia. There he made an acquaintance with Frank, a young boy suffering from Down syndrome, and Elmo, a boy who was around Edgar’s age and suffered from cerebral palsy.

These underprivileged children would often feel left out. All the children seemed to shirk Frank and Elmo’s company, owing to their different physical attributes and an inability to participate in regular playtime. Edgar, however, tried to befriend them and tried to understand their problems, which gave them some relief. Frank was strong and would often help the neighbors with moving around heavy objects like flower urns. Elmo was tutored at home and managed to get a high school diploma. In seventh grade, Elmo was advised to take up trumpet lessons to develop his lungs. Edgar would carry him to his lessons on his bicycle’s crossbar until he became too heavy.

Later, a girl in his high school church group caught Edgar’s attention. She was neat and interactive, but most of the children shied away from talking to her because she had an artificial leg. Edgar was deeply sympathetic to her and developed a friendship with her.

During his first year at South Junior High School in Joplin, Edgar was introduced to a bunch of underprivileged children who were collectively known as the Dirty Dozen. Initially, he had apprehensions about making any progress with the unfortunate kids, but with his determination he began to make some progress with them. He was constantly thinking about how to help underprivileged children, and he eventually decided to give their lives a certain direction by making them a part of the stage crew. John, the eighteen-year-old fond of threatening the class, became the foreman. With Edgar, they began to develop a work ethic as they worked, learning to count, to follow instructions, and to work as a team. Slowly, the lost self-esteem began to return in bits, and one day, the students asked for a uniform like other teams and then asked for tennis shoes. For the next two years, the responsibility of the Dirty Dozen fell on Edgar’s shoulders.

Though he did not know what the rest of the Dirty Dozen were up to, his paths would cross John’s later. He found John was working at the station, had quit tobacco, earned his GED, and got his teeth replaced. In 2005, when Edgar tried to contact John, he found out that he had become a minister and had been serving the church for thirty-six years.

Edgar became interested in becoming a counselor and studied for a master’s degree in music while teaching the same at Duenweg. Following the completion of his degree, he joined Carl Junction, Missouri, as a counselor. He would later become an educational diagnostician of referred children at the Joplin Hospital while working with the Missouri State Department of Mental Health. He quickly realized the need to do something about the low levels of referrals and started visiting different counties to spread awareness about the program and how it could be used. He devised a program to ensure greater association between the schools and the clinic and would give presentations, which included input from a psychologist. He also convinced the administrator to start an in-residence program for kids which proved to be extremely beneficial in helping underprivileged children.

Do you feel strongly empathetic to the needs of others? Are you actively involved with working for underprivileged children? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Visit my Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads pages and let’s start a conversation on topics like these. Looking for stories about life before the Second World War? Read Of Raincrows and Ivy Leaves.

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Judith A. Brown

Edgar Brown is a war veteran who was a navy pilot in the Black Cats Brigade. After the war, he serve... read more

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