Developing future leaders of compassion
In the current times, this question seems more relevant and critical than ever. This isn’t something that needs to be addressed just in high school and middle school. Instead, it is a mindset that must be nurtured from the early years of a child’s development. Both schools and home environments can encourage a spirit of service.
Developing the notion of service is an important antidote to the self-centered nature of the typical child. It is something that can be started early in small ways and then developed into bigger projects as the child grows. Schools are perfect environments for this and in addition to teaching children to be helpful, compassionate and caring of others, schools can initiate service projects throughout the year. Not only does this inspire generosity, but it also brings attention the injustice and inequality in the world. Everything from UNICEF collections at Halloween to collecting food and coats for homeless shelters can be a call to action for children.
Parents can also encourage this mindset. Determining the child’s interests and concerns and then finding ways to serve in those areas is the best way to get cooperation. Too many children (and adults for that matter) are insulated from the inequalities, the hardship in the world. Developing service projects as a whole family is one way to overcome this. For instance, I know one family that went to the Union Mission to serve lunch on Martin Luther King’s birthday. Even young children can learn to give food, toys or clothing to those in need.
The best and most life changing service however, is service that involves giving of more than our excess. It involves giving something more substantial such as our time and energy. Spending a Saturday morning in a soup kitchen for the homeless, or volunteering in a nursing home to visit with residents who have no family are great ways that families can impact their community and ultimately the world. Service that moves us out of our comfort zone and challenges us to make a difference develops children and ultimately adults, of compassion and character.
Here is a Rocket Kids video that challenges kids to put more effort into serving others: