Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kids Can Make a Difference

Christine, a mom of four kids (one with Down syndrome), responded to last week's post - "Summertime, and the Living is Easy" - with some wonderful suggestions for parents (or grandparents, caregivers, etc.) who are looking for more things to do together as a family. She said, "I am always looking for more things TO DO. And, many times, I have a few nieces join my "biological summer camp".

A few things we have done are:

  1. visited the elderly in nursing homes. We bring homemade cards for them, and fresh cookies;
  2. 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!
  3. 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:

  1. Bake Sale
  2. Neighbourhood Flea Market
  3. Costume Ball
  4. Read, Dance or Walk-a-Thon
  5. Talent Show
  6. Art Show
  7. Poetry Reading
  8. Community Auction
  9. Car Wash
  10. 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



Don from Ideal Way said...

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you . . . if your positions were reversed. You never learn so much as when you bend to help someone else.

rickismom said...

Lovely! Thjink I'll try a few of these with Ricki!

Maricel said...

Hiya! I was here! :) blog roll visit time! ^_^

These are definitely great things to do with a kid...

Maricel --- Momhood Moments

Maureen Lee said...

Thanks for your insightful comment, Don. "If your positions were reversed", how would you wish to be treated? And in doing for others, we are not the teacher, but rather, the student.

Thanks, Rickismom & Maricel - I'm glad that the post was helpful!

Patricia said...

Volunteering and giving to others can be a blessing that goes both ways. I know when I work with my special needs students or when I take time to visit the seniors I bring a smile to their faces and get the same in return. If we would all give a little of ourselves the world would be a much better place. Smile and give a kind word to someone today. You will see the difference you make in someones life.

holly said...

as a person with a disability i know how it feels not to be treated the same as the other kids. i feel so good when someone takes the time to talk to me or is willing to do something with me. life can be a lonely place when people look at you as different and we have the same feelings as anyone else so thanks to everyone who takes the time for peole like me. we are always looking for ideas for things to do.

Suzanne said...

What I love to do with my mom is make homemade macaroni & cheese! It's a great way to bond, and the reward at the end is a delicious, creamy one.

Maureen Lee said...

Patricia, That's wonderful that you take the time to work with special needs students, and visit with seniors. You're right - it's definitely a two-way street when you volunteer.

Thank you, Holly, for visiting our blog and giving feedback. Yes, it certainly makes a difference, doesn't it, when you are included in everything a community has to offer? You said it best: "Life can be a lonely place when people look at you as different and we have the same feelings as anyone else."

Suzanne, Macaroni and cheese is one of my favourite meals, too! As a mom, I enjoy cooking with my daughter, for as you said, it's a great bonding experience. If you wouldn't mind, could you please send us the recipe for your "delicious, creamy" macaroni and cheese?

We're always looking for recipes from our readers to post in the Recipes section, and this sounds like a winner!

Tim said...

In the airport the other day I watching as a mother played with a child who had numerous disabiliities. The child's laugh was truly infectious; eventually smiles appeared on many faces, changing the drab atmosphere. Let us hope, that as others set an example there will be an infectious result.

Maureen Lee said...

I love your account of a child's laughter completely changing the atmosphere in a room. It's true that just as laughter is infectious - especially a child's - so too are generosity, kindness, and joy.

Thank you for taking the time to visit Just Show up, Tim!

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