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No job is too big, no kid is too small! Nonprofit leaders share ways that kids can start changing the world today!
There is mounting scientific evidence that young children have a natural inclination to be kind and helpful, and there’s a lot that parents can do to encourage them to make caring for others part of daily life.
With Valentine’s Day and Random Acts of Kindness Week approaching, Noggin gathered up some specific ideas from charitable organizations to inspire you and your child:
“Take the time to tell other kids that you like them and think they are special. Even if they are different than you. Just a few kind words can make a huge difference in someone’s day. And that includes being kind to yourself. We can be so hard on ourselves sometimes. Always remember to be proud of who you are and know that you are not alone. We are all in this together, and your love and kindness will make the world a better place to live.”
— Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director, The Trevor Project
“Sometimes members of the military have to stay far away from their families for months at a time. One of the things service members enjoy most of all is receiving letters and care packages from home. Kids can draw pictures, write letters, and send care packages to service members. Kids and parents can even work with schools to put together “thinking of you” packages to those serving overseas. It is an easy and fun way to show you care.”
— BG Cindy Jebb, Dean of the Academic Board, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
“It is so important to foster a relationship with our public spaces from a young age. Getting young children out to their local park is a great way to instill a sense of affection — and responsibility — for the planet and its many inhabitants. This can be as simple as admiring trees, birds, and insects, and teaching them to be conscious of litter. Encouraging stewardship is more crucial than ever in a generation that, unfortunately, has been born into climate change and all of its consequences.”
— Dan Garodnick, President, Riverside Park Conservancy
“Our planet needs our kindness now more than ever. The way we live has changed a lot in recent years, and some of these changes have led to global warming — it’s like the planet has a fever. This makes it harder for all kinds of life to do what they normally do and to be healthy – from people to dogs and cats to fish in the ocean to trees and flowers. The good news is we can all do our part to help. This includes things like recycling and composting, turning off the lights when we leave a room, and biking and walking instead of driving cars. All of these can help the planet. Earth is the only home we have, so it’s important we do what we can to keep it safe and beautiful.”
— Helen Mountford, Vice President of Climate & Economics, World Resources Institute
“Every day, kids have a chance to help make the world a better place — and you can start in your own home or back yard! First, take a look around at the animals you see in your own neighborhood. Encourage your child to think about what they might eat and where they might live. Ask why it might be important for people to try and protect their homes. For another fun activity, try planting a native plant or flower that will attract bees and butterflies. Bees and butterflies are so important because they go on to help pollinate other plants and flowers that are important to our environment. For more fun project ideas for how to help animals, people, and the environment we all share that you can do with your child, visit rootsandshoots.org.”
— Kamilah Martin, Vice President, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots USA
“A great way to role model kindness, and teach your children how to make a difference in the world, is to take action on behalf of the 1 in 7 kids living with hunger in America. Young children can help in lots of ways: asking for donations to an anti-hunger charity instead of birthday presents, drawing a picture for their pre-school teacher thanking them for all they do to feed kids in their care, or baking muffins with an adult’s help and hosting a Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry.”
— Caron Gremont, Director of Early Childhood Hunger, No Kid Hungry
“We love when families want to get involved in the issue of family need! There are lots of ways for young people to get involved in helping others who live in poverty. I think the key is to have age-appropriate conversations about need and see what your child would like to see change. Identify the issue area first and then talk about how your child could make a difference in that issue. We’ve had children who wanted to be sure every baby had diapers like their new baby sister or brother so they’ve asked friends to bring diapers to their birthday party instead of gifts. I’ve seen new readers who want every child to have books in their home so they gathered with friends to donate gently used books. We’ve been amazed by the creativity and passion of some of our youngest donors and volunteers. We want to build a world where giving back — time, ideas, dollars — is commonplace.”
— Corinne Cannon, Founder and Executive Director, Greater DC Diaper Bank
“Young children can be kind to everyone in their community by telling parents and friends to make sure they count all the young children in their homes in the 2020 Census that starts in March. Parents and caregivers need to count all the young children who live at their address, related or not, temporary or permanent, because it means more federal money will be allocated by formula for their community for the next decade for child care, schools, health care, WIC, and other services that help children thrive. Even young children can help spread the word and have fun by learning the song here and teaching it to their friends and their parents, watching the webisodes with family and friends, and sharing the coloring book pages.”
— Deborah Stein, Network Director, Partnership for America’s Children
“February is the month of kindness! Be kind in simple ways like putting away your toys when you’re done playing, sharing your toys with others and asking if you can share what they are using. Ask your parents or sibling if you can help them with a chore. Do what’s being asked of you even if it’s not exactly what you want to be doing at that moment. Draw a picture for someone you love. Spend some extra time with your pets showing them how much you love them. Kindness is important because it makes you and those around you feel special when it’s happening. It shows how much good there is in the world and you’re a big part of that!”
— Brooke Jones, Vice President, The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
“The thing about kindness is it’s free, easy, and appreciated by all ages. Seniors are at high risk of depression and isolation or often live away from their families and grandchildren and have lost many friends and family. Children have the ability to bring smiles, giggles, and warmth, which combats all of that. It’s simple: sit and talk to an older adult you might encounter, hold a door, or just ask them if they need help. If it’s a neighbor, make a friendly visit or get their mail each day. Make a homemade card or picture. Find a senior center or nursing home and stop by. Try making a game out of being kind: Ask your child to count how many seniors they can talk to today or how many smiled when you visited. Just being aware of an older adult who lives nearby or who you pass on the street or store and acknowledging them is huge.”
— Lois Celeste, Executive Director, Saratoga Senior Center
“We are constantly in awe of the amazing stories we see of young heroes and their families creating GoFundMe fundraisers that are truly making a difference in their communities. It’s clear that with the youth of today, we are witnessing the next generation of changemakers. They see something they want to change, and take action — from passing out meals to the homeless to making care packages for children battling cancer to hosting a lemonade stand to eradicate school lunch debt.”
— Lili Strasser, Customer Experience, GoFundMe
You can find other ways you can help your kids spread kindness every day at home in 11 Ways to Raise Kind Kids, an interview with Dr. Thomas Lickona, a professor of education known as the “father of modern character education.”
Are there any other ways YOUR little heroes have helped improve the world around them? Share your inspirations on Noggin’s Facebook!