When ringing in the new year, people often make resolutions; one of mine this year was to continue to teach my own daughters about the value of community service. While we donate regularly to the food pantry, give our gently used toys to the Boys and Girls Club, and assist with recycling in town, now that they are a little older, I’d like to have them experience some hands-on service. If you’re like me and are looking for a starting point, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is that place.
Rather than seeing it as a just a day off, a movement began several years ago to see MLK, Jr.’s birthday as a day OF–of service, that is. What better way to honor a man who once said,“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” than by giving back to the community?
In my classroom guidance lessons with all three grades, we’ve been discussing the idea of fostering a welcoming and inclusive school community. Third graders have been working on making connections with and appreciating those from whom we are different by creating a “Helping Hands” wreath. Fourth graders, who are focusing on peaceful problem solving, have begun working on updated Solution Wheels that will be displayed in the school. And fifth graders, for whom friendship and peer relationships are quite important, have participated in a variety of activities that promote inclusion of all students (such as using their critical thinking skills to address hypothetical role plays and working on cooperative group projects). For the students here at Abbot, the first step in giving back is creating a school community in which everyone feels valued, safe, and cared for.
Want to deepen your child’s experience with giving back? Find an opportunity to volunteer as a family. The first step is to find a common interest and see what you can do in that area. For example, if your son loves animals, check out the Lowell Humane Society’s Kids 4 Paws program that offers educational and fun opportunities for kids to work with the dogs and cats in various ways. Maybe your family is more committed to the environment? The Nicodemus Earth Project is a service learning program that encourages kids to participate in environmental stewardship projects. Or is your family an advocate of the performing arts? The Lowell Folk Festival is a great opportunity to expose your family to a variety of cultures and their music and arts, and your help would be appreciated during their annual celebration. To help you begin finding the right experience for your and your family, VolunteerMatch is the best place to start looking.
The sky is the limit–find your family’s place to shine and share!