Candy Land, Teachers, and Hope

Candy Land was created by a school teacher during the polio epidemic to give hope and happiness to quarantined children. We can give hope to others, too.

This video was recorded for part of the May 3, 2020 online worship service at my church during a series on HOPE. You can view the message in context at http://www.chumc.org.

I like playing board games. Here’s one of the game cabinets in my house. It has games like Sorry and Monopoly and Clue. When my children were little we also had a game called Candy Land. Maybe you’ve played it.

Today I want to tell you why the game Candy Land was created. It was during a time in history about 70 years ago when there was a contagious virus that made many people very sick. The sickness was called polio. Tens of thousands of people became unable to walk when they got sick with the polio virus.

Since that time, a vaccine has been created that keeps people from getting polio. But before the vaccine, sick people were quarantined in hospitals, children had to stay inside their homes and away from their friends, and people weren’t allowed to travel or gather in public places. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?

Well it was during the polio epidemic that a teacher named Eleanor Abbott got sick with polio. She became a patient in a hospital with a lot of other people who were sick with polio, too. Most of those other patients were children.

Ms. Abbott noticed that the children around her were bored and scared and separated from people they loved, and many of the children were too sick to walk. So even though she was feeling sick herself, Ms. Abbott wanted to do something to help the children. She wanted to give them something to do to pass the time, something to distract them from their sickness, to make them feel happy and free, and to give them hope for a better future.

So she made up a game and called it Candy Land. When children played the new game, they moved their game pieces along a winding path and let their imaginations take them to places outside of their hospital rooms. Quarantined children pretended to run through the Peppermint Stick Forest, past Gumdrop Mountain, and around Lollipop Woods. It was a very colorful and happy game. The children loved it, and it did help them feel better!

Ms. Abbott sent her idea to a game manufacturer, and Candy Land became a huge success. She later donated most of the money she earned from the game to buy supplies for schools so she could help more children.

I’m telling you this story for two reasons. First because we are starting Teacher Appreciation Week, a time when we want to especially recognize and thank teachers for the many things they do. In this story it was a teacher who saw that the children needed something, and so she used her imagination to create the game for them. Teachers are amazing people. They care for you and want to do whatever they can to help you become the people you were created to be.

The second reason for the story is because we are taking a close look at something called hope. We are thinking about having hope even when there is suffering. While she was sick, Ms. Abbott still had hope and wanted to give hope to others.

When we are sad or scared and things are out of our control, hope can help us remember that sadness won’t last forever and that God is always with us.

I wonder if we can find a way to help other people have hope when they are sad or suffering.

Who created the original Candy Land game?

  1. a grandma who liked to spoil her grandkids
  2. a teacher who saw what children needed
  3. a candy store owner who wanted to make lots of money

Why was the game Candy Land created?

  1. to distract children from their sickness
  2. to give quarantined children a feeling of movement and freedom
  3. to help children with polio have hope
  4. all of the above

(Answers: 2, 4)

“Teaching is the highest form of understanding.”

Aristotle

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