Kindle a Grand Passion
Sure, there’s music, sports, and the arts, but there is something about ways to serve humanity that can light a fire as the school-aged child moves into double digits. Expose them to the possibilities - Climate Change, Endangered Species, Save the Wolf, Animal Shelters, homeless care packages, Feed my Starving Children – suggest, but only with their interests in mind. Listen, and watch for the flames.
This is the age of cell phones, ipads, gaming, and socialization, and the hardest time to keep a connection. Passion is the key. Grandparents have more time and empathy for serving humanity, while parents sometimes can’t manage One. More. Thing. Help these kids find ways to make a difference as they go through the years of feeling like that small fish in a very big pond. Show them how important they are to a bigger picture. Bring joy to these first baby steps. Sometimes, a child has an interest, but is too young to participate. Organizations would rarely turn down you as a team. And the needs of the world are overwhelming, even crushing to the teenage soul. Your perspective can help sort it out.
Here is a list of general volunteer ideas and links to spark an area of interest. The Road Scholar Travel site has many volunteer and service learning opportunities for bigger adventures, like volunteering in Navajo Nation Schools or saving sea turtles in El Salvador.
NO SMALL IDEAS
But you can start quietly too – our neighborhood school has 6th graders working on Knit a Square, boys and girls. Knit-a-square has distributed over 84,000 blankets since 2008 to warm and comfort the cold, orphaned or vulnerable children of South Africa, one 8” square at a time. You, or you and a friend, could teach a class of kids to knit, or a small group, or work with a few kids from home. Or one. And, how fun if you need to learn to knit to do it – there are lots of easy instructions and YouTube videos to help. Just start.
But remember, it has to be the kid’s passion we are kindling. Your job is to expose them to the world of possibilities, to how good it feels to make a difference, and to offer to drive them there. You are the Professional Enthusiast and a more engaged relationship is the bonus prize, sharing times where you will learn much more than you teach.