How to Deepen Children’s Civic Engagement
Increasingly, parents of young children are placing a larger focus on civic engagement and giving back. Not sure where to get started or how to strengthen your involvement?
The following actions draw upon Points of Light’s Civic Circle, a framework that helps people understand the many facets of civic engagement and provides an opportunity to show children the variety of ways they can support causes they care about. Combine these ideas to engage your whole family, strengthen your community, and amplify your efforts:
- Volunteer. Hands-on action is always an amazing way to get involved. Whether you find time to volunteer at a local organization or use one of Points of Light’s DIY project guides, there are plenty of options for families of all ages and abilities. Consider projects that focus on issue areas that children can easily understand and get involved with, such as food insecurity, animal welfare and climate change.
- Donate. Most organizations need financial support to continue their operations and deliver on their missions. Having a family fundraiser can be a great way to support an organization or cause. Whether you run a lemonade stand, plan a virtual fundraiser, sell friendship bracelets, or do something else creative, activities like these help youth learn planning skills and the value of supporting organizations financially.
- Purchase Power. Consider shopping at small local businesses or BIPOC- or women-owned businesses. You can also find and support companies that give back – either with a percentage of proceeds or by working sustainably.
- Listen and Learn. A critical element of civic engagement is listening to and learning from the community you hope to serve. Before taking action, learn about what’s really needed. If you can’t talk to those directly impacted, ask a local nonprofit organization if they have suggestions or more information. You can also read books, listen to podcasts, or watch documentaries about the causes you wish to support.
- Use Your Voice. Helping kids find their voice is important because they can use it to harness their power in bringing awareness to important causes. Kids can share information by telling friends and family what they learned over a dinner, sharing a report at school, or providing information for others with an action item to take.
If you’re looking for tactical ideas, Points of Light’s website has family-friendly toolkits for youth of all ages that incorporates some of these elements. Visit www.pointsoflight.org to find a project that’s right for you.
Let your initial efforts be just a starting point. Taking action and understanding the impact of your work can lead to a lifetime of civic engagement and service.
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