<p>Kids volunteering</p> Credits: Getty Images
Parents often share with us that their greatest hope is to raise compassionate children who will contribute to the world. Though admittedly, they often add, getting my kid fed and out the door on time with both shoes on can be a challenge.
It’s not always easy to prioritize volunteer service as a family amidst the wonderful daily chaos that children bring into our lives.
When we were kids, service started simply, with discussions about world news around the dinner table, and with our parents’ unwavering support when we encountered a cause that we cared about. Marc, for instance, did his school science project on environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies. Mom and Dad actively encouraged his home experiments—our kitchen had never been so spotless.
And as we grew our fledgling youth group into an organization with millions of supporters, our parents were our greatest champions.
You don’t have to turn your living room into your kids’ charity headquarters, but you can show them that every day is an opportunity to give back in simple, meaningful ways. That could mean taking a container of soup to a sick friend en route to a family activity — if your little ones enjoy cooking, have them help out in the kitchen first. Or the whole family can get bundled up to shovel an elderly neighbour’s driveway this winter (then build a snowman with the fresh powder). Kids are paying attention. They will notice these gestures and begin to associate good deeds with fun family memories.
For over 20 years, our organization that began as Free The Children has empowered young people to transform communities at home and around the world. Known today as WE, it’s a movement that brings people together and provides them with the tools to change the world. WE is now comprised of two aspects: WE Charity, and ME to WE, the social enterprise that funds the charitable mission.
WE Families was built on our belief that one family can make a world of difference, even at home—even weaved into the daily chaos.
In many cases, it’s only a matter of acting on your child’s instincts. When kids across Canada heard the news of wildfires engulfing Fort McMurray, or flood waters rising in Calgary, fundraisers popped up from coast to coast. Lemonade stands, car washes, ice-cream stalls and book drives were run by families and schools to support the Red Cross. Trust us—kids are compassionate by nature. They just need your help with logistics.
Young people approach us every day with their epic plans to change the world, which is why we launched WE Day, a series of global youth empowerment events that now reach 200,000 young people every year in stadiums around the world.
This year, we’re launching our first WE Day Family event on October 19 in Toronto. There, you’ll find ideas, inspiration and the support you need to nurture a sense of social responsibility in your children and make giving back a meaningful part of your home life.
Those ideals also underlie the pledge we invite everyone to take on our web site, WE.org: “I pledge to Live WE by making a difference every day.” Each pledge unlocks $10, donated on your behalf to support empowerment programs at home and abroad. Pledgers gain access to resources, tailor-made to help you take action at home, at work or at school. Parents will find tips for raising socially conscious children, and campaign resources to help kids support the cause of their choice.
Raising your kids to care and contribute is not just good for the world—it’s good for your child and your family. Small actions can make a big difference when it comes to friendships, grades and self-esteem. Studies show that young people who volunteer are more likely to do well in school, to graduate and to vote. When kids get support at home, they grow as leaders who become more civic minded. And by rallying around causes you care about, your family will also grow closer to each other and to your community, and feel a renewed sense of purpose.
Above all, WE means recognizing that we’re part of a larger community, and that our daily choices impact that community. Part of raising socially conscious children is helping them to ‘think WE,’ to care about others and to give back.
Together we can create a better, more compassionate world. It all starts at home—and with you.
The world needs your family.
For more information on how you can purchase tickets to WE Day Family, visit canadianliving.com/vip