Little People, Big Ideas
While working around children for 28 years, it didn’t take me long to notice that kids have the ability to achieve many positive things in the world. Whether it’s pitching in on playground cleanup day or collecting pennies for the animal shelter, they are passionate about doing good things.
The excitement of being involved in a project that benefits someone or something can turn a child into a dynamo working for the common good. I saw this happen over and over throughout the years, but it was never as pronounced as after 9/11.
During the aftermath of 9/11 it became obvious that a lot of kids were tuned in and watching how the adult world was dealing with such a large-scale tragedy. After 9/11 the heroes of that horrific time were recognized and honored, giving us pause to remember and acknowledge the heroes in our own lives.
For a number of years prior to 2001, Hawthorne School’s principal had incorporated a program for the children that she called the “Principal’s Challenge.” The Challenges encompassed everything from learning math “Count-Bys” well enough to be able to recite them all in under two minutes to building a paper airplane following certain guidelines and then flying it in a competition.
This was a great program that encouraged students to participate, although none of the Challenges were mandatory- just a lot of fun, excitement and camaraderie for those who wanted to rise to the Challenge.
After 9/11, our principal decided to do something to give focus to what is right and good in our world. So she incorporated a new Principal’s Challenge called, “Kids are Heroes, Too!”
The premise of the Challenge was that it’s not only adults who can be heroes. When children do something kind, loving and helpful, they are exhibiting the characteristics of a hero, too. As it turned out, this was a very successful Principal’s Challenge that proved little people can have big ideas. The array of good deeds was amazing and varied.
Children raked leaves for their neighbors. Two boys joined forces to collect food for the animal shelter. A girl collected pennies to save the whales. Older children read to younger ones. Countless bags of trash were picked up. And the list goes on.
Overall, that first year about 15% of the students in kindergarten through fifth grade took up the Challenge. And each of those kids walked a bit taller after they completed their chosen good deed.
It was so inspirational to see children doing their part to make the world a better place, to help patch things back together. The pride and self-confidence these little people found by accepting the Challenge was tangible and it was an amazing experience to be in the presence of so many little heroes!
The “Kids are Heroes, Too” Principal’s Challenge was very popular at Hawthorne School and continued on in subsequent years. You can read a bit more about it in this article.
So what is the lesson here? I think we, as adults, need to remember not to sell kids short on their ability to care and be involved. It’s important to provide opportunities for them to do good deeds, participate in worthy activities and celebrate what is good in our world.
Kids who help out learn empathy for those who are less fortunate. Kids who help out feel good about themselves. And kids who help out find out what it feels like to be a hero!
And while little heroes are being made, those little hero attributes are building a bridge to the future where being involved with people and community in a positive way is just a normal part of life.
So how about it? Are you ready to accept the Challenge to help your child learn what it’s like to be a hero? You can click here to see some ideas for getting your child involved in changing the world for the better, one little step at a time.
Now, after reading that do you feel inspired? If so, it’s time to take out the Super Hero capes, dust them off and have a beautiful week with your family!
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