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*** Monthly Feature Column ***
Building Assets in your Kids
April’s the Month for Community Service
by Kelly Curtis.
I wrote about the importance of service in December, but I can’t let April pass by without revisiting it as well.
Search Institute has identified “service to others” as one of the 40 Developmental Assets, which means research shows it’s a characteristic of healthy, caring, resilient kids. The more assets youth have, the more likely they’ll resist risky behaviors in the future. Search defines service to others as: “The child has opportunities to perform simple but meaningful and caring actions for others.”
During the research for my book, I’ve been struck by the significant impact community service has had on the youth I’ve interviewed. I’ve always understood the theoretical purpose of service, but never heard about the long-lasting effects experienced by young people that get involved in their communities.
We might think that service is something engaged in only by older youth, but that’s really not true. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program has honored over 300 youth this year, many of them pre-teens.
Here are a few examples:
Cody Gallagher, 12, of Fairmont, WV, developed a campaign to provide new and gently used children’s books to disadvantaged families, in an effort to encourage parents and their children to read together. He collected $12,500 in books.
Dylan Mahalingam, 11, of Derry, NH, founded a youth organization dedicated to mobilizing young people around the world to help achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Dylan started the program Lil’ MDGs, to organize projects to benefit the poor, and recruit individuals, schools and companies to collect items for disadvantaged children around the world.
Creighton Boggs, 12, of Columbia, SC, has celebrated her birthday for the past two years by throwing a party for a local animal shelter and asking guests to bring donations instead of traditional presents. She develops a “wish list” of supplies and includes it in her “All 4 Paws” party invitations. Each year, she’s raised more than $250 for shelter programs.
But we can serve in simpler ways as well. April is a month full of service opportunity.
Earth Day is on April 22, and worldwide citizens will do things to help the environment. My daughter is writing a series — leading up to Earth Day — to educate herself and others about the environment.
That same weekend is National and Global Youth Service Day. Young people around the world will be involved in community service projects to impact their communities.
And for most locations, Arbor Day will be the last Friday in April, April 27. This is a day when people plant trees, to replace those that have been harvested.
What little or large service could your family participate in this month?
Thanks for joining in to build assets in your kids! I look forward to seeing you again next month for Positively Speaking.
by Kelly Curtis
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