I love outreach! Especially rallying kids to do fun things like: working at a food bank, doing a senior yard clean-up, competing to see who can get the most canned items on a Saturday afternoon, or writing letters to soldiers overseas. There’s simply nothing as awesome as seeing kids get fired-up to make a difference in our world. It’s good for our world, and it’s good for our kids.
The YSA (Youth Service America) recently invited me to participate in the grant approval process for the upcoming Youth Service Day in April. The YSA partners with groups like Disney to help fund youth service projects. My role was to evaluate grant requests from about 20 different applicants, ages 5-25, across the globe.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured the vast majority of the requests would come from the United States. After all, we are a motivated people! However, the proposals I reviewed (in addition to the US) came from Ghana, Turkey, Nigeria, Grenada, Togo, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. I was blown away by the passion and scope of vision that these kids exhibited.
In light of our own political grid-lock, It was refreshing to see kids making real change around the world.
Every single submission was awesome. It became increasingly difficult to pick out the true winners because I wanted to fund them all. Proposals ranged from clean water and garbage pick-up in third world countries (so kids don’t get poisoned), to literacy, bears for seniors, teen obesity, and sexting education. My goodness! So many intentional kids making a huge impact in our world. It is interesting to see the correlation between cultural development and need.
The true gift in the process was getting to read the “back story” on these kids. For example, to a child in Africa who experienced the death of loved-ones because of unclean drinking water – you get an understanding of the desperation that has lead to their passion for change. The proposals were well written, passionate, and eager to put the funds to good use!
Just about the time I was convinced that nothing in the US could compare, I read a submission from a girl in California who was heading up a Sexting campaign to raise awareness about the issue of online pornography and its effect on youth. This particular applicant had lived through a horrific experience where compromising images of her were distributed in her school and community. She felt isolated, exposed, vulnerable, suicidal, and alone. She did not want anyone else to experience the pain she had gone through. For her, youth outreach meant educating others in our culture to understand the consequences of digital sharing. Her passion for change was just as real as a child needing clean water.
There are countless ways to make change in our world. This process taught me that the needs in our community are just as compelling as the needs of other countries. It was an awesome experience to see that kids from around the world are rolling up their sleeves to overcome a wide range of issues.
In consideration of this process, here are some kid’s games that come to mind:
- Follow the Leader… if kids can do it, so can we!
- Red Light Green Light… Do something fast, while you have the time!
- Red Rover Red Rover… Send yourself into the world to make a difference!
- Patty Cake… surround yourself by people who will give you a hi-five along the way!
- Heads Up 7Up… take a sneak peek at what opportunities are lurking.
Outreach – It’s Not Just Child’s Play… I’m feeling pretty motivated to rally for change… Just something small like a scavenger hunt for non-perishables… Saturday afternoon, 2 teams, 1 hour, 2 trunk loads, quick drop off at the food bank.
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