When she was a little girl and started playing netball with friends and at school, Susan soon discovered that she was good at it. This reinforced her enthusiasm for training and playing more and more, and eventually led to representative selections to the ultimate prize, the Australian Team (The Diamonds).
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson, Baptist minister and cricket chaplain, wondered how many other young people discovered they were good at something and liked the feeling and continued to excel at that particular task.
"To discover that you are good at something brings to bear a whole host of things that should be explored," he mused. "It can lead to any number of interesting and fascinating outcomes."
This story illustrates how important it is that children be given exposure to as wide a range of activities as possible. Mark Tronson remembers from his own childhood how much both the State and Independent educations systems excel in this respect; and this view was reinforced as his own four children progressed through school in New South Wales.
There was not only a range of sporting opportunities provided, but the curriculum covered a wide area of academic subjects and there were other hobbies and clubs - chess, science and environmental activities, drama, music of various types, video and film production, the ArtExpress for the best year 12 visual arts ... the list goes on and on.
Those who are above average in academic areas even have opportunities to excel in the range of national competitions in everything from dance to chemistry (and all things in between), and the science and mathematics 'Olympiads' provide the top few students every year with equivalent academic opportunities as being selected for a State or National sporting team.
And of course, if they are interested, they can start getting a glimpse of the importance of politics, co-operation and management through the Student Representative Councils, being elected House Captains or School Captains or being involved in the older style Prefect system.
When the children experiment by participating in a wide variety of activities, they find out about themselves two quite separate yet connected things: one is that they find something they like doing; and the other is something they are naturally, very good at it. Moreover a recent scientific study has shown that belonging to such youth clubs has huge positive effect on young people).
Once a child discovers they are "very good at it" (whatever 'it' happens to be) the outcome is that it opens for them a huge sense of personal achievement and satisfaction. Their responses to this, if fostered by parents and teachers and other mentors such as social and church groups, can reveal a whole new world of engagement for a child.
Parents should be supportive of whatever the child is interested in – even if it isn't the same as the parents' interests. We have all seen movies or read stories about the sadness and heartbreak when parents were unable or unwilling to appreciate their child's brilliance and aptitude in something they did not understand or recognise as being of value.
If a child is lucky enough to have this support when they find something 'they are good at', they are able to achieve more and more at a higher and higher level. Other key people begin to notice their talent and realise their future potential, and it brings into children's lives very positive experiences of affirmation, and enables them to set more ambitious (but still realistic) goals. Their horizons are given whole new dimensions.
This self-awareness can bring with it a faster-growing maturity as the child grows into an adolescent; and a concomitant improvement social graces as these kids have a an exposure to a wider group of people than they would otherwise have experienced.
"This applies to us throughout our lives," explains M V Tronson. "Finding something we are 'good at' can happen to us as adults, too, through our hobbies or careers."
He cites his own experiences, stemming from his lifelong passion for sport, when he became the Australian cricket team chaplain. During those 17 years, he had the most amazing opportunities to meet a wide range of people from all ranks of life, at the many and varied functions he attended. This has brought him contacts and links that have benefitted his Well-Being Australia respite ministry in the longer term.
Life is a tapestry and those young people who have discovered "they were good at it" and followed through with their dreams discover there are many personal rewards as well benefits for the wider community.
Jesus was very supportive of people using their 'talents' for the good of the community and themselves. The parable (Matthew 25:14–30 (NKJV) indicates both that we are given 'talents' or 'gifts' according to our ability, and that we will be rewarded in the Kingdom of Heaven if we make the most of these 'talents' and invest in our ability to make the most of them. We should ensure that our children get as much opportunity as possible for them to find out, what their 'gifts' from the Lord are.