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Published January 12, 2013

A Lesson in Empowerment – Why Kids Should Volunteer

You’re never too young to change the world, but first you have to learn how to make an impact. That’s why, for the next two weeks, my classroom is going to use art, media, and hands-on projects to benefit three local non-profit organizations. My class will be confronted with tough issues like homelessness and hunger, terminal illness, and an over-abundant stray animal population, then given real opportunities to help — without ever having to leave their classroom.

Here’s the issue: Lots of classrooms emphasize the idea of “kindness,” but many classrooms never introduce elementary-age and younger children to the concept of actual volunteer projects, non-profits, and social issues. Since those tough social problems like homelessness and illness are avoided, children grow into adults who feel like these issues are large, un-fightable monsters.

In fact, when asked, one reason many adults give for not being more involved in civic engagement is their general sense of helplessness. “What can I do against such large problems? I’m just one person.” That sense of empowerment can begin in childhood. Kids really can make a difference, and teachers and youth counselors can help them.

But it isn’t all serious business! We’ll also explore fun crafts and innovative social experiments in random acts of kindness, allowing these elementary students the chance to play and enjoy the exciting side of compassion. I mean, come on, our classroom is even going to have a puppy visit!

Allying our classroom with local non-profits such as Activate Good, The Raleigh Rescue Mission, the Wake County SPCA, and Zach’s Toy Chest, we’ll help real people (and puppies!) in need and learn about our own power to make a difference. Along with over 70,000 other students worldwide, our classroom joins in The Great Kindness Challenge, which enlists thousands of teachers and classrooms to help out their communities!

Bullying, a hot topic issue in schools and youth programs, is also addressed by this lesson plan. Just Say No to Bullying has also lent its support to the cause, generously offering thirty bookbags and wristbands to our little classroom to promote the message of kindness over bullying. With the many organizations rising to make my classroom’s Volunteerism and Kindness week a success, our youth are given the powerful opportunity to realize their own potential to change the world. When we promote volunteerism and kindness, bullying is naturally discouraged.

For teacher and youth counselors interested in implementing a Volunteerism and Kindness lesson plan in their class, camp, or group, please look below. If you live in the Triangle area, you can literally copy this plan exactly. In other states, you can easily translate the projects to work for your own local non-profits. As for the fun and exciting Random Acts of Kindness — well, those work for everyone! And everyone loves puppies.

Are you a teacher or a kid who wants to get involved? Here’s my lesson plan for volunteerism and kindness from the classroom

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  • heather


  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. All my articles.

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