Kids Give Back
Q: YOU HAVE MADE GIVING BACK A LIFE/FAMILY PHILOSOPHY IN SOME WAYS. WHY? HOW DOES PROJECT GIVE BACK SUPPORT THIS PHILOSOPHY?
A: As a teacher for more than twenty-five years, I have seen what can happen when children share their unique passions. I wanted to help develop empathy and build community minded youngsters as well as open up their eyes to the world around them. Project Give Back was born. It is a passion based curriculum catered to elementary students. Each student chooses a cause that is meaningful to them. This becomes the topic of their year long journey with Project Give Back. The students connect with their cause, research important facts about that cause, develop a speech and then teach their classmates all about the cause that they have chosen. Each student is assigned a time slot when they act as the teacher and we all learn. We learn about the world through a very unique lens. During that time, they also introduce an activity that the entire class can do to honour and learn more about their chosen cause. Our trained teachers contact each student by telephone before their presentation date to help coach and assist if necessary. Rich and meaningful discussions take place each week as a new topic is introduced.
Some of the activities include: class visitors of experts in their particular field, arts and craft activities, exercise classes, physical challenges, innovative board games and letters and cards made to children, nurses, doctors etc. Learning is put to action and often this causes a ripple effect outside of the classroom walls.
Children empower one another as they share their own unique struggles, challenges or passions.
Over 1000 students each year teach their classmates about more than five hundred causes. ReThink is one of those causes that we learn about in many classrooms each year due to a family member who is so appreciative for the services that they received.
Q: WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT KIDS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHARITIES AND WHY GIVING IS IMPORTANT?
A: We can always Re Think about involving our children into our lives, even during difficult times. Our children are more resilient than we think, and the more we let them in, the more prepared for REAL life they can become. I have witnessed this with my own children as they have watched their older brother fight an unfair lifetime battle of facing a neurodegenerative and fatal illness. Instead of shying away from indifference and sickness, they have become patient, caring and non judgmental young adults. Their journey with their brother has awakened their response to act and help others whenever the need arises.
Q: WHEN DO YOU FEEL IS THE RIGHT TIME TO START ENGAGING KIDS IN CHARITY AND GIVING?
A: Children love to help. The more they help the better they feel. It gives them a sense of independence and importance. I feel that allowing children to volunteer at a young age opens the door to a philanthropic future as well as helps to foster caring and compassionate youngsters.
For years we planned a fundraising event solely focussed on this topic, the powers of giving. The weekend long event was called Jake’s Gigantic Give. Together with Mastermind Toys, Spinmaster Toys and The Canadian Group, as well as our family of devoted sponsors and volunteers we set up a massive toy store. Not one toy could be purchased. Instead hundreds of children went on a mission – to create a gift package for another child who isn’t as fortunate! These gift packages were collected by our young guests, wrapped, personalized and then handed to various charities all set up to receive these gifts. As the youngsters handed in their gifts, they were given the opportunity to learn more about where these presents were going. Each child was offered the opportunity to go back into the store to choose one gift for themselves. Many children as young as four years old asked if they could give this present instead to the charity as well.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP PARENTS EXPLAIN OR DEMONSTRATE WHY CHARITY AND GIVING IS SO IMPORTANT?
A: The best way to teach our children to be givers is to give them the opportunity to watch and learn from their parents. If you are involved and model kindness, most likely you children will follow in your footsteps.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME TOOLS PARENTS AND KIDS CAN USE TO START OR SUPPORT THEIR EFFORT TO GIVE BACK?
A: One way to engage our children into the world of giving is to host an EchoAge birthday party. Check out www.echoage.com. This company is a win/ win opportunity for the children involved, the parents planning the party and the chosen cause. Once they have connected with a cause it is important to continue to support this relationship.
Does your family want to give back? Starting a fundraiser is super simple – check it out!