Some days it’s hard not to feel pretty down about world news — knowing that somewhere across Texas, the US, and around the globe, there are people facing tragedies and unfair obstacles. How do we make a difference? How can we ensure that we’re doing our best to make the world a better place for our children?
As parents, it’s our job to lead by example, teach our babies right from wrong, and encourage empathy and kindness. And once they grasp those concepts, we need to provide healthy ways for kids to take action and stand up together to strengthen our community.
Where to begin?
–> Be Kind. On the most basic level, we can throw kindness around like confetti, any day of the week! Not all acts of kindness requires planning, and working compassionate actions into everyday moments can make a big difference. Here’s just a few ideas of practicing Random Acts of Kindness:
- Make a card for someone you know who could use extra attention
- Pick up litter as you go for a walk down around the neighborhood
- Hold the door for a mom struggling with a stroller
- Pay it forward and buy coffee for the person behind you in line at the coffee shop
- Let your child’s teacher know how much you value her/him (when it’s not teacher appreciation week)
- Tell someone you love them
The Doing Good Together website has a wonderful list of suggested kindness activities for kids. Check out their 28 Days of Kindness For Families sheet for some easy ideas.
Beyond random of acts of kindness, there are many targeted activities you can do.
–> Volunteer. Carve out time to focus on the needs of others with hands-on volunteering. Help struggling families find food or shelter, or elderly Austinites in need of meal deliveries, animals in need of comfort in local shelters, parks and trails in need of maintenance and beautification.
Getting the children involved in service projects at a young age helps them understand the needs of our community, builds empathy for others and gives them the realization that they have the power to make a difference. Click here for some suggestions on volunteer projects.
–> Share Your Voice. Marches, protests, letter-writing campaigns, visits to the state capitol, etc. offer a variety of ways to take action to support social justice — promoting kindness on a bigger level. When we engage in these types of events, our kids are learning that they have a voice in working towards a more inclusive society. Families can share their desire for everyone to have shelter, food, a good education, the opportunity to love whomever they choose.
We can read news stories with our kids, talk about historical events, have conversations about what is happening in the news today. We can talk about feelings, how we wish to be treated, and when, where and how we can voice our concerns — whether it’s writing letters to senators or attending a peaceful rally.
For your older kids, there are even a few youth activist and leadership programs to sign up for that teach young people their role as citizens in a democracy. Learn more here.
You can visit Do512.com/advocacy for listings of fundraisers, meet-ups, marches and more. Of course, when it comes to involving your children in these events, it’s your call as to what is appropriate for your family. No matter what level of involvement you choose, be sure to chat with the kids first about any possible scenarios regarding safety, noise levels, crowds and expectations.
–> Support Nonprofits: If you focus on a particular issue when it comes to advocacy efforts in Austin, there is such a variety of nonprofits who will appreciate your time. A monetary donation to a local nonprofit is also a very easy way to extend kindness.
- Education: Here are some Austin-area organizations that could use help supporting kids in public schools — Communities In Schools of Central Texas, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area, Latinitas, Austin Partners In Education, United Way for Greater Austin, Creative Action,
- Refugees: Click here to read a great article about supporting refugees from Giving City Austin. You can also connect with these organizations who work with area refugees to see how you can help. Refugee Services of Texas, Caritas of Austin, Mulitcultural Refugee Coalition, Amala Foundation
- Human Rights: ACLU, OutYouth, Anti-Defamation League, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, SAFE Austin, Black Lives Matter Austin, Austin Justice Coalition
- Immigration: RAICES, Workers Defense Project, Texas Civil Rights Project, Casa Marianella.
There are obviously many more great nonprofits in the Austin area and a variety of ways you can share kindness and work towards social justice. Check out the following websites for a wealth of information about doing good in the community.
We’d love to hear how you are sharing kindness with your kids. Tell us in the comments below how your family works to make a difference in the community.