Giving Tuesday and our Giving Kids

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Change Makers. Amidst bad news populating our TVs, radios and social networks it’s time to celebrate the Change Makers instead. And here’s a little secret, there are Change Makers all around you. They live on your street.  They may be drinking a hot chocolate at the table next to yours in that coffee shop you’re sitting at right now. Or maybe you…yes you… it is Giving Tuesday after all.

Ever had a conversation with a 5-year-old about world issues? If not, I highly recommend it. Because unlike 36-year-olds, a 5-year-old will listen to the issue and then jump right in with solutions. No matter how challenging the situation at hand, they will deliver a plan of action. No, it might not always be a plan that will be feasible. But it will be a plan delivered with passion and conviction. And one you as a parent should get behind.

“Children see what is happening around them, and those that are compassionate, they want to make a change,” said Joanne Ginter, Manager of Counselling Initiatives specializing in children and youth for the Calgary Counselling Centre.  “As adults we look at history and teaching about the mistakes, but kids can look at what is happening and think about how to make a difference.”

Ginter said it’s important for parents to recognize how education of children is changing. With internet exposure and greater discussions in school about global current events, children are seeing a much more global picture. And as parents, we need to listen to kids when they bring up those discussions at home.

“Kids have all these emotions that come with that (compassion);  we have to give them the opportunity to make a difference. Adults are key,” said Ginter.

A teacher in my local community, echoed Ginter.

“Technology is giving us increased global information on a daily basis. We cannot ignore the information that our children are getting. We need to help them make sense of it. Kids need to talk in order to do that,” she said. “Our kids have a great awareness of how lucky they are and they have a desire to make a difference. They should know that they can make a difference, no matter how young or old they are.

Ginter said many teachers are realizing the importance of social engagement and creating opportunities for impact or change maker projects and parents can follow.  In this particular teacher’s case, the classroom has been working on raising funds through hand-made crafts for a playground project in Rwanda.

“The project itself is doing the teaching. The kids are experiencing the work of fundraising, with its good points and tough ones,” explained the teacher. “Our students are recognizing the power of their collective energies.”

Here are some tips by Ginter to help your little change maker develop a healthy future in impacting his/her world:

find ways to be a role model and create opportunities for your compassionate change maker to become involved in the causes that matter to them. volunteer talk about the issues they are concerned or passionate about, and talk about ways to make an impact. If there are fears or anxiety involved, talk about solutions and how to create safety. helping kids foster a sense of impact, can also come from enrolling them in sports and extra curricular groups where they play a role as 1 member of a group working on a shared goal. unanswered compassion can lead to apathy or a sense of helplessness and even anxiety, so if you have a child eager to be involved – let them, support them, join them.

I know a Change Maker, a 9-year-old who lives in my own rural Canadian town. She goes to school every day. She goes to after school activities like figure skating and girl guides. And in her off time, she’s decided to work on a project that will change the life of a child she’s never met.

Abby Harris has been working on a craft project on weekends and evenings, creating bookmarks,  paper doll craft kits, rainbow loom creations and other seasonal items and selling the products with the help of her mom at craft fairs and online. Abby’s goal is to reach $468 (CNA) in order to sponsor a girl’s education for a year through Plan Canada – she’s raised approximately $150 thus far.

Abby: “I really wanted to help out in some way. Kids can make a difference too!”

Abby had been active in giving back to her own community many years through drives and fundraisers with her local after school clubs, but learning about the immense struggles of others in the ‘third world’ made her want to connect with this cause. Abby’s mom explained that Abby’s passion for working towards affecting a girl’s education came from learning about the struggles many girls face every day in other countries with her involvement with girl guides, as well as discussions of the recent U.S. Elections and Hilary Clinton’s plight for girl power.

“She loves school so much that it was shocking to her to find that education wasn’t a given right in some of these countries,” said Abby’s mom, Danielle. “To see her inspired to continue working towards this cause so she can make a difference is exciting! I’ve read stories about kids doing these things before but never thought my own would be doing that at age 9 too!”

“Kid power means that my kids will do whatever they can to make a difference. The world is a heavy place sometimes but kids can be so inspiring when they voice their opinions.” Danielle Harris

Looking for a really easy place to start with getting involved with your own family?

Today North America is celebrating its 4th year of Giving Tuesday , a public movement to provide a multi-national platform for all people to easily give back to charities and non-profits. You can support many great causes, including through the Calgary Counselling Centre’s Giving Tuesday campaign. For every $2 donation received today an anonymous donor will donate an extra dollar to this cause of aiding this charitable organization help families from Calgary and area. (Last year, 74% of the centre’s clients were individuals, couples, and families that had help paying their counselling fees through the generosity of the community).

If you appreciate this article, please share it with friends. And if you feel you can make a difference today, click on one of the links to support many great causes.