Change the World, Give Back
By Jo Frost
Teaching children the importance of giving back and serving their community empowers them at a very young age. Whether it’s once a week or once a month, collaborating every family member in your household to be involved in giving back helps to create a life long habit of community service and brings everyone (no matter what their age) a feeling of goodwill and spirit around helping others.
To start creating these habits, start talking about what you love to do as a family. Think about something you all connect with on a personal level. Does you family love animals? Do you enjoy cooking meals together? As this could lead to helping in animal shelters or to cooking and serving in a soup kitchen. Or perhaps your family loves sport and art, which could provide many opportunities to help children in these areas. Starting with something your whole family, and especially your children can connect with is important for both longevity and accountability. Most children love to go to the park. So perhaps take the initiative with others to help clean up your local park areas. Do you they have a relative in a nursing home? How about baking some goodies to take there next time you visit and go door-to-door dropping them off to residents and nurses? If your children love animals, take some dog treats and tennis balls over to the local dog shelter and perhaps walk or play with the dogs.
Older children will want more of an attachment to long-term and larger projects. Have them think big about what they’re interested in. Do they like fashion? They might want to organize (gently worn) denim or coat drives at school or local community centers and drop off the donations at a local shelter. Are they into sports? Perhaps they can volunteer at a local kid’s after school program or put together a seasonal field day. Are they a budding artist? Why not have them talk to a local gallery about putting on a show of kid’s or senior citizen’s artwork for a night? There are an infinite number of possibilities; it’s just a matter of how big they want to dream.
Though some of these service activities might require some technical assistance from you or perhaps car pooling, it is one of the most important things you can give your budding activist and show that, as a family, you are encouraging and enthusiastic about their endeavor to help others.
No matter how young or old your kids are, once they get started (and put their minds to something) they (and you) can really make a difference in your local community. And remember the words of a leading change-maker, Mahatma Gandhi, who said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” That change starts with one child, one family, and one idea.