Working towards a charitable cause can be an empowering experience for kids, giving them a sense of purpose and accomplishment. And helping others is the best way to develop empathy and build a sense of belonging in the community. Charity work also helps to raise awareness and put things in perspective: When kids realize there are people in the world without toys, they may be less inclined to complain if their parents won't get them that new ipod touch they've been asking for. And when they see that people are sick, they may begin to appreciate their own health and the health of those around them. When they help clean up a beach, they may be more aware of where they put their trash the next time they're out.
One ultra-inspiring 12 year-old named Mary Margaret O'Neill founded an organization for kids looking to make a difference in the world. It's called Kids Are Heroes. Here's what they say about themselves:
"Kids Are Heroes® is a non-profit that empowers, encourages and inspires children to become leaders through volunteerism and community involvement. We do this by showcasing and supporting children who are changing the world through their selfless acts of giving."
Basically, kids come up with a cause, start their own charities, and Kids Are Heroes helps promote them. There are already two kids in the bay area listed on the Kids Are Heroes website...props to Tyler Page in Contra Costa and Elizabeth DeRuvo in Marin for taking action to help those in need!
Tyler, age 13, started Kids Helping Kids, a charity dedicated to raising money for kids around the globe. A couple years ago Tyler saw a segment on child labor trafficking in Ghana. He started out with the goal of raising money to help rescue those kids. His charity has grown from there...check out Kids Helping Kids for more info.
At age 6, Elizabeth DeRuvo wanted to help the homeless people in her community. She started a coat drive in her town to help keep the homeless warm during the winter months. Read about here efforts in the Marin Independent Journal.
Are you feeling inspired? Talk to your kids about giving. Tell them the stories of these local kids making an impact on the world. Maybe your kids already know of a problem they'd like to help solve and just need a little guidance to get started. Founding a charity with your children is a great way to spend time together working toward a common (and noble) goal.