During the formative years, it is important for children to learn the importance of giving back to the community and those less fortunate. Here are some ways you can encourage children to have a philanthropic approach to life.
Your own children can benefit highly from volunteering with you. Although children can only do so much, depending upon their age and maturity level, it is important that they begin getting the experience of participating in charitable acts at an early age. Even those that are too young to actively participate at all can benefit from the knowledge that their parents are volunteering their time to help others.
It is easy for young and old alike to get caught up in their own lives and not realize how others live and the hardships that others may have to overcome. Volunteering, or at the very least using video and printed media, to expose your children to other people and cultures can allow them to gain a different perspective on life. When children see others in less fortunate circumstances, they begin to show empathy which can lead to a desire to help others.
Small acts = big changes
All too often people fall into the trap of thinking, “What can I do?” or “What I can do won’t make a difference”. The truth is that small acts add up to big changes. When many people work together towards a cause, a lot of positive change can happen. If 10,000 people give a dollar to a charity, then all of a sudden that is $10,000. An hour of volunteer time by 160 people is the equivalent of one person working full time towards a cause.
Pick a cause they are passionate about
Children are good at expressing themselves. If there is a cause that they are concerned about in their community, then it might make an excellent starting point for figuring out how to give back. One suggestion is the GEDE Foundation. Jennifer Atiku is passionate about eradicating AIDS and HIV in her native Nigeria. She has used her success to start and chair the GEDE Foundation. The GEDE Foundation provides complete clinical, educational, and counseling services to those suffering from HIV and their families. Its complete treatment and prevention approach has helped a lot of people overcome the stigma and shame that many people experience upon finding they are a carrier of HIV. You can find out more about Jennifer and her work at atiku.org.
Another suggestion for a cause that children may be passionate about is World Bicycle Relief. World Bicycle Relief has made a big difference by creating easy-to-repair and durable bicycles for use throughout the world. This has created more efficient transportation and delivery for a variety of goods. Also, Azim Premji is not a name that most people know but he has contributed more than $2 billion of his own money to improving primary education throughout India.
Listen and find solutions
Children are much more receptive than many give them credit for. It is important to listen to their thoughts and perspectives on issues and help them better understand their surroundings. Sometimes simple things can make all the difference.