A few things we have done are:
- visited the elderly in nursing homes. We bring homemade cards for them, and fresh cookies;
- cooking and baking lessons for the kids. Great learning experience in measuring and following the instruction on a recipe. The greatest reward is eating what you made!
- write letters to friends and family. For those who don't have e-mail, send those wonderful works of art that are hanging around in your home."
It occurred to me that Christine is teaching her kids how to make a difference in the world. And by making these activities fun, her children will forever associate being generous with having loads of fun. By the time they edge into adulthood, they will be eager to create their own projects, or join with others to create a "more just, sustainable, and socially responsible world."
Matt Certner, 18, was inspired to found the Sports Clinic for Special Needs. Matt was best friends with Mikey. They had known each other for years, but when Mikey was diagnosed with autism, Matt noticed a difference in the way Mikey was treated. "Particularly when he would try to play sports. Either the coaches would be too competitive to let him really participate or the kids would be callous."
"Matt wanted to let kids like Mikey have a chance at an even playing field if they wanted to play sports. Matt started with one clinic in his hometown in New Jersey with volunteers from his high school, but in 2 1/2 years, the nonprofit group has expanded to six in the state, helping approximately 100 special needs kids and their families. The kids play soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. Like any other sports clinic, the kids get uniforms and trophies. Matt is going to Duke in the Fall, but plans to continue his work.
"I don't do it for resume status. Ever since I was young I wanted to give back. I love it. I love the kids." "
But if making a difference on such a grand scale doesn't appeal to your child, there are plenty of ways he or she can lend a hand to help those in need. In fact, it's often "small changes that make a big difference". At Kids Can Make a Difference, they have a handy What Kids Can Do page that's chockfull of ideas about how to get involved.
Their fundraising ideas include:
- Bake Sale
- Neighbourhood Flea Market
- Costume Ball
- Read, Dance or Walk-a-Thon
- Talent Show
- Art Show
- Poetry Reading
- Community Auction
- Car Wash
- Birthday Donations
As Emma Smith, 20, said about her experience volunteering for Oxfam: “Due to volunteering I have met some amazing, like-minded teenagers from all walks of life who live hundreds of miles away from each other… In fact, volunteering has encouraged me to question my life in the UK and see the world from entirely different perspectives… I encourage anyone considering volunteering to do so. Regardless of the amount of time you spare, your help will definitely be valued and it really does change your life.”
What about you? Share your experiences and your ideas with us, please.photo credit: by terryooze