I remember making posters in elementary school: stop littering, stop drop and roll, stop forest fires, stop smoking...stop, stop, STOP!! I joined the Animal Protection Institute and circulated an annoying number of petitions: stop bashing the brains out of baby harp seals, stop slaughtering whales, stop leaving your cat or dog in a hot car on a hot day (now we need to remind folks to stop leaving their babies in hot cars on hot days)...stop, stop, STOP! I trick-or-treated for UNICEF; I walked for the March of Dimes. Stop hunger. Stop birth defects. I could never understand why CARE wouldn't take "care packages" of leftover food (usually liver and broccoli) that I wanted to send them, but my parents said, "Stop!"
We were anti-litter, anti-fire, anti-animal cruelty, anti-hunting - but what were we for, really? I'll tell you - we were all for annoying our parents and we all wanted the Indian guy to stop crying. We were for cute, furry animals like kitties and puppies and baby harp seals, and we were for cool sea creatures like whales. By making posters and circulating petitions and walking for our chosen causes, we were getting involved. We were helping to save the world. And that felt good.
I wrote, yesterday, on importance of feeling like a useful, needed member of the family. It's also important to give children a sense of connection to their community - a community that can be as small as their neighborhood block or as large as the entire world. What better way to do that than to teach them to care for the planet that sustains us?
A good source of environmental information for kids is National Geographic Kids. Their list of "green tips" to conserve resources is an easy way to involve even the youngest family members in making meaningful changes that really can help save the world (or at least make it a better place). Need more ideas? The Green Guide for Kids is a great resource that shows how kids around the world can make - and are making - a real difference. Here are a few other sites that focus on getting kids involved in a good cause:
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and faith-based organizations are also good ways to get kids started in community service projects. What are some of the ways you encourage your children to be more active in the community?