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‘Mr. Rogers’ Heroes’ Looks at Who’s Helping America’s Children

September 2, 1994 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ He only wanted one, but there are two titles to Fred Rogers’ PBS special, ″Fred Rogers’ Heroes: Who’s Helping America’s Children.″

″The second was my title,″ said the kindly, soft-spoken gentleman known to millions of Americans (many of them little) as Mr. Rogers. ″Then they told me, ’Your friends will watch it if we put your name there, Fred.‴

End of discussion.

Rogers, host of PBS’ long-running ″Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,″ wants as many of his friends as possible to watch his special, airing at 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday night, after the long holiday weekend.

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He wants to introduce you to a few of his personal heroes.

″We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility,″ he said. ″It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond.

″I consider those people my heroes,″ he said.

″I have a chance to give a little notice to all those people who give hope to our fairly despairing society. ... And I wanted to present them in a way that would allow you to know them.″

Rogers said his production team, Family Communications, Inc., found the heroes by calling producers and friends all over the map, looking for people who are doing good, and making a difference in the lives of children.

″The toughest thing was choosing who to introduce you to,″ Rogers said. ″You can find a hero around any corner. That’s what’s so hopeful.″

The heroes you will meet are:

-Glojean Todacheene, principal of Mesa Elementary School on the Navajo Reservation in Shiprock, N.M., for the past two years. In a small community beset by the ills of alcoholism and unemployment, she has used Navajo wisdom and hard work to make the school a safe place where children can flourish.

-Olomenji O’Connor, a high school dropout who created Project Peace, a mediation and conflict resolution program for pupils in five of Chicago’s inner-city elementary schools.

-Carola de la Rocha, a dancer and teacher who founded the Los Angeles Mexican Dance Company, where training, education and discipline are offered to any young person who wants to study dance seriously.

-Dr. Sam Ross, founder and director of Green Chimneys, a working farm where troubled young people can heal and find solace in caring for animals.

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Rogers was asked whether there was a common trait shared by his four heroes. ″I think the main thing about them was how readily they spoke of the importance of the kids in their lives,″ he said. ″In other words, they are receiving givers.″

How’s that again?

″If you’re simply a giver, you can fall into the trap of manipulating others; when you’re a receiver, you’re in a position of vulnerability and not the powerful one,″ Rogers said.

″To be able to receive seems to me to be a very mature way of being. To be able to give and receive is the stance that I would like to grow into as the years go on,″ he said.

″There’s a generous current in the American spirit,″ he said. ″And if we can simply give voice to that once in a while, I think it’s a good message.″

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Elsewhere in television ...

’20-20′ AND A.D.D.: Do you have trouble focusing on specific tasks? Are you disorganized? A procrastinator? Do you walk out of a movie and forget what you saw? If you have these symptoms and remember having similar ones as a child, you might have A.D.D., or attention deficit disorder, a brain disorder that affects millions of Americans.

The disorder, recognized in children more than 50 years ago, came to be known as ″hyperactivity.″ Untreated, it can continue to plague a person in their adult years. ABC’s ″20-20″ correspondent Cathy Crier tonight updates her June 1993 report on A.D.D. in adults.