(fireworks crackle) - This one's a good one!
(serious music) - Kids see things differently, and there's so much we can learn from them about how to persevere.
- Living through times that are catastrophic or challenging can test the mettle of who we are as a society.
So what does it mean to be an American right now, and what do we have in common that is universal?
- I don't know about you, Danielle, but it's been tough trying to keep it all together.
There's actually a group of Americans who are experts in dealing with change and upheaval that hardly anyone is consulting.
So I wanted to see what we could learn from them.
- Breathe in, two, three, four, hold it, two, three, four, breathe out.
If you don't stay calm, you're not gonna get anywhere.
- [Ali] Yep, 10-year-old kids.
Everything in this episode was filmed by children and their families, except for Danielle and I.
- I don't know too many kids, but I'm really eager to figure out what we can learn from them.
- I can tell you all about how kids think and feel, but at 10 years old, they're really good at explaining it themselves.
- It feels like I'm getting old.
- Old enough to know common sense kind of, but also not too old.
- I've taken a lot more responsibility.
- We just do our own thing and explore things for ourselves.
- I'm getting to the age where I'm getting heartburn a lot.
- I sounded a lot like my mom earlier, and that might not be a good thing?
- I just like embracing my childhood while it's still here.
Embracing being able to order from the kids' menu because soon, I'll be 12 and I won't be able to order from the kids' menu.
- The mind and body of a 10-year-old is going through tremendous change.
- I've started going through puberty.
- Puberty, puberty, like a lot.
I'm growing up to be a woman, and I'm like wow, I don't think I'm ready for this!
- They're beginning to understand the complexity of the world.
- Protests, elections, coronavirus.
- It's like really scary.
People are getting shot with rubber bullets.
People are getting teargassed.
- I just am really missing everyone, you know?
- As a professor, I know that American kids have lived through past pandemics in some really interesting and adaptable ways.
For example, in the 1907 tuberculosis outbreak, two Rhode Island doctors, Mary Packard and Ellen Stone, proposed open-air classrooms that had large, open windows on all sides to prevent transmission of disease.
- I feel bad for those kids in New England that had to sit in these open classrooms in wintertime.
- Fortunately, they were bundled in blankets and also they had warm stones put in their shoes and on their feet to keep them from getting frozen solid outside.
Sometimes it's easy to become cynical, or to feel like these things are so beyond repair.
I think it's important that we start thinking of other alternative solutions.
- I love that perspective of kids, they kind of break you out of your way of thinking.
(chime) - We know what grownups try to do, they try to like, just be like purpose, perfect, and try to like be perfect, and if they're not perfect, then they're like, "Oh my gosh, this is not perfect, oh no!"
- There are just things in the world that are going on that already cause like a lot of like stress and aggravation.
You really just don't need more of that.
- There's a lot of simplicity and logic in that advice.
If we're gonna go through a global pandemic, social upheaval, then we need to learn how to be flexible and move through these things with a little bit of grace, but I'm definitely going through some of the same things as the kids.
I miss people and meeting in person and giving hugs.
- Right now, we're all feeling isolated.
We all need social connection, but this is especially important for kids.
They learn as much from hanging out with each other as they do in the classroom.
(chimes) - In my town, our cell phone reception and wifi internet is so bad that you can hardly contact anyone.
(whimsical music) People get crazy from not seeing anyone or not being near people.
We started HAM radio about two months ago, when the coronavirus stuff happened.
- HAM radio has been around for 120 years, and is a way that people can tune into different frequencies around the world, and communicate.
- Suzie, this is Dustin, do you copy, over.
- It's a cool way to meet new people, 'cause if there's very few friends of yours at school, and lots of people that are mean to you, it's a good way to communicate with other people.
- [Dave] KY7HAM, KI7OZH.
- Hey, Dave!
I get to meet new people that are nice, that treat me like I treat them.
How is your day going?
- [Dave] Well, until I got a call.
I was getting ready to take a nap.
- I contacted people with the radio for like 200 people.
- [Man On Radio] J06JOQ.
- You can make new friends and it will feel like you're not alone in the world.
QO Yankee Seven, control on the mic, Charlie November Seven Seven.
- When we connect to others, stress can vanish, but stress can also rev up our bodies for action.
(chimes) - Whenever I'm having a bad day, I just, I get in the gym.
(jump rope whooshes) What I think of, my mind is like, "Oh, I'm not worrying about you, "I'm gonna just train."
(grunts) My name in the ring is Zoey "Boronita" Bustamante.
Bap, bap, bap, bap, bap.
(giggles) I'm a boxer.
I started training when I was five years old.
Whenever somebody punches me, I don't care like if they hit me really hard.
I always keep on pushing.
- Working on something that completely absorbs you, that you can keep getting better at over time, can help you to feel grounded, when everything else in the world seems so unstable right now.
(chimes) (gentle piano music) - Since quarantine started, I've been writing a song every day.
Writing a song always makes me feel like I'm not alone.
♪ You might say that this easy ♪ ♪ But you'd be wrong ♪ ♪ You could say that this is normal ♪ - Before quarantine started, I just liked music.
♪ I can't hold you anymore ♪ ♪ Now I can't touch you, love you ♪ ♪ All that I can do ♪ ♪ Is miss you ♪ - I realized that music is something that really makes me happy.
t's something that I wanna do with my life.
(gentle music) - We will all face something terrible in our lives, and the only thing we can control is how we respond to it.
(chimes) - The virus is very scary.
My great grandpa, he got sick and he was in the hospital, but it was really hard for my grandma, because she couldn't even see him in the hospital, and then, he died.
You definitely should stay connected with your religious group, because it helps you feel safe, and it helps you feel loved.
My friend Ria and I, we've been creating these regular devotionals, which is like a gathering where she invites Baha'i friends from California and her neighbors.
And I invite Baha'i friends from Massachusetts and Framingham.
Okay, so thank you for coming.
Susanna Guy, you can say this prayer now.
- Oh Lord, give me your wisdom.
You made the world.
- Maybe they're feeling scared too, and you can like go through your words together and that will definitely help you.
- If we can get through hard times together, then maybe it means that change is possible.
(chimes) (people cheer) - Hello everybody, I'm Moxie, and today we are here gathered for something I believe in, and that is that Black lives matter.
(people cheer) - [Man] Thank you, Moxie.
- [Crowd] Black lives matter!
Black lives matter!
Black lives matter!
Black lives matter!
Black lives matter!
Black lives matter!
(calm music) - Sometimes you need the perspective of a kid who doesn't have all these years of being told it has to be this way.
- I think a post-coronavirus world, people are gonna want everything to be normal again, but that's not gonna happen.
Hopefully people will start believing in the right things, and that might change the world.
- There's no perfect way to get through this, there's no ideal way to get through this.
Whatever helps you to live through today, that's good enough.
- We're done talking here.
- [Woman] PBS American Portrait is-- - A platform where-- - People can go to in order to share their experiences.
- So join in, - Go to PBS, - Dot org, - Slash American portrait.