Kids in Motion are real-life kids who are making a difference. These practical ideas will move your kids to serve others this summer.
School’s out, and the kids in your ministry are facing hours of free time. While serving their community isn’t necessarily the first thing most kids volunteer to do, with a little inspiration you can spark ideas for missions that kids can get genuinely excited about. We tracked down stories of ordinary kids all over the world who’ve acted on their passions and created really big ways to serve.
Every child in your ministry has passion; it’s just a matter of tapping that passion to impact people in need. Every child has something important to contribute. The summer downtime is an ideal time to motivate the young world-changers in your ministry.
Who’s more concerned about kids’ issues than kids themselves? From topics as varied as self-worth to dealing with bullies, kids have something to say. And it’s kids who can empower other kids to team up against bullying. Corey Taylor of North Las Vegas, Nevada, was so passionate about making a positive change that at age 16 she began self-funding her own Teen Radio Talk Show. Airing once a week, her program discusses kids’ issues, promotes positivity and kindness, and speaks out against bullying.
Jake Marcionette of Ponte Vedra, Florida, spoke out against bullying, too, when at age 12 he wrote his New York Times best-seller “Just Jake.” Jake felt there weren’t enough good books for boys his age, so he wrote one. This fictional book tells a humorous tale of a new kid who does his best to avoid a bully.
Born with HIV, Paige Rawl of Indianapolis, Indiana, was bullied for a disease she had nothing to do with contracting. At age 14, she became the youngest person to be certified as an American Red Cross educator on HIV/AIDS. She has since pushed to pass an anti-bullying bill in Indiana and toured with the “I Need You to Listen, Hear, and Understand Me TOUR,” educating youth at schools and churches about HIV/AIDS and bullying.
Kids Educating Kids
When children hear of injustice or inequality, they often want to act. Most kids want others to have what they do—hopefully love, education, and health. Mateo Fernandez, 9, of Bahasa, Indonesia, gave up something to give to kids in need. Mateo and his friends had been renting computers so kids could play Minecraft, but when he learned of poor families in his area, he convinced his friends to give some of their proceeds to The World Bank to print 145 extra book sets to show poor families how to better educate their kids.
Koa Halpern, 12, of Denver, Colorado, wanted to improve kids’ health. He was concerned by the lack of health benefits in fast food and the health of his peers, so he started a nonprofit called Fast Food Free to educate kids about the downside of fast food. He speaks kid to kid as he looks for strategies to help kids get excited about taking care of their bodies.
Get Kids Moving
Your kids can help educate kids in your area, too. Set up a brainstorming session to plan. Start by asking your kids to talk about some of the needs they’ve noticed. Maybe they’ve heard of kids who can’t afford school supplies, or maybe they’ve noticed kids in their school who are falling behind in reading. If your kids haven’t already noticed things, challenge them to look for needs over a one- or two-week period.
For your second brainstorming session, have kids talk about things they could do to help. Maybe they’d want to host a book drive to collect books for a community library or maybe they’d be willing to rent out their own books to encourage their peers to read more. They could also read to younger children at libraries, or they could start a “reading in the park” club. Whatever your kids decide, help them to focus on one or two strong ideas, and then work with children to come up with a tangible plan to carry out the service. They don’t have to start a nonprofit or something huge in scale. But they can give according to their own gifts, talents, and time. Here is a brainstorming template.
Some kids are natural entertainers, and they want to use their talents to bring joy into others’ lives. Caren Ulcak of Austin, Texas, and Abigail Lupi of Stockholm, New Jersey, both age 10, each took their talents one step further. According to her teacher, Caren shows kindness and care for others by performing dances at children’s hospitals. Abigail founded an organization that entertains at assisted-living homes, nursing homes, and children’s hospitals, gathering girls from ages 6 to 13 to sing and dance for the residents.
Get Kids Moving
Do a talent inventory with your kids. What talents and skills could they share? If you’ve got kids who are especially good at math, start a math-tutoring clinic. For those who play team sports, set up weekly play and coaching sessions with younger or at-risk kids. If you have kids who love to sing or dance, organize outreach fl ash mobs at local events or help them set up a regular time to sing for an assisted-living facility where they can develop friendships with the residents.
Your empathetic kids have an invaluable talent. Socially-aware children can open the door to helping their lonely or friendless peers. Seven-year-old Christian Bucks of Manchester Township, Pennsylvania, and 10-year-old Acacia Woodley of Palm Bay, Florida, came up with ideas to foster friendship and inclusiveness in their respective schools. Christian asked his school to create a “Buddy Bench” for kids who feel lonely. He suggested that kids could go to the bench during recess when they feel lonely. Then other kids would know when someone needs a friend. Acacia thought of a similar idea, called the “Friendship Bench.” She also created a business called “Tiny Girl Big Dream” to sell the benches, bracelets, and “Friendship Kits” to schools to promote kindness, anti-bullying, and good character.
Often, receiving help compels us to give back. Lexi Kelley of Stamford, Connecticut, is an ultimate example of giving back. After a bad car accident, she was so moved by the many people who were there for her that she wanted to give back. At age 12, Lexi founded Kids Helping Kids (kidshelpingkidsct.org), a nonprofit organization designed to get kids involved in helping others with their passions and talents. Through her organization, she hopes to empower kids to become leaders who make a big difference.
Ethan Hobbs, 12, of Ontario, Canada, also wanted to give back. After receiving care from Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Montreal, he organized a charity event called “Ethan’s Toques and Mittens Bonspiel” (Ethan’s Hats and Mittens Curling Tournament) to raise funds for the hospital. The event included curling games, food, a silent auction, and prizes.
Kennedy Hubbard of Moorestown, New Jersey, raises funds for the Vascular Anomalies Center at Boston Children’s Hospital by selling bracelets, T-shirts, and car magnets through her nonprofit organization, Kennedy’s Cause. After growing up with Lymphatic Malformation, at age 16 she began raising money to help sick children and their families as a way to give back.
Get Kids Moving
With children, read aloud 2 Corinthians 9:7. Then have kids make a list of people who’ve given to them—whether material things or immaterial things such as kindness and hope. Ask kids to discuss reasons those people may’ve given to them. For example, one person might show kindness to a lonely person because he or she felt lonely in the past. Then work together to come up with individual plans to “pay it forward” by giving to someone else.
Motivated kids can make an extraordinary difference.
Age doesn’t matter.
Even 6-year-old Anna Rose of Stoneham, Massachusetts, knew that when she organized a “walking for wildlife” fundraiser to raise money for the animals hurt in an oil spill.
Location can’t restrict kids, either.
It didn’t restrict 11-year-old Alex Lawson of Fort Pierce, Florida when he saw the needs of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake; he started a backpack drive that sent more than 400 backpacks to Haiti, bringing together Christian churches and the Jewish synagogue he attends.
The calling matters.
The Murset family of Phoenix, Arizona, headed out on a 20-day summer trip around the USA to help 25 families in need. They stopped at different locations, putting in several hours of work to help families of people with cancer or other genetic disorders. The trip was the father’s initial calling, but after the kids got to work, it changed their lives.
The key is to inspire your kids to lean on their gifts and talents and interests.
You can empower them by pointing out things they can do as kids and encouraging them to use their talents to help with issues they’re passionate about. We’d love to hear about the big things your kids are doing! Go to our Facebook page to share your ideas, photos, and encouragement for children across the world.
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