Changing the World is Our BusinessThe Giving Experience - YesKidzCan! Blog
May 24

“While it’s often best to shield younger kids from tragic news, there’s really no shielding the teens and tweens in your family from the harsh images and sad events that are on the news, especially in situations involving a natural disaster.” Click here to read more of iVillage.com’s resourceful article!

Jul 18

By Lisa Novick, Co-Founder, YesKidzCan!

This past year, it seems that the world has been overcome by disasters.  There has been, of course, the Japan earthquake and aftermath; the devastating tornadoes that hit Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Joplin, Missouri; mudslides in Rio de Janeiro; the flooding in Minot, North Dakota, among others.  I am not certain that there have been more catastrophes this year than other years.  Perhaps it has felt more overwhelming to me for two reasons.  First, news stories are constant, repeated, and everywhere.  There are news feeds along the bottom of existing programming. There are news interruptions.  There is the internet.  And second, I have a daughter who is now old enough to want and need more information when she hears about these kinds of disasters.

I wouldn’t presume to tell other families how to speak with their kids about these overwhelming stories.  I will share that in our house, we discuss ways we can help directly.  Or, if we can’t help directly, we talk about ways others have been helping.  We all can’t possibly support every situation.  Sadly, there have been far too many tragedies. But I have found that if we talk about the kind things other people or groups have been doing, that helps us feel closer to the hope surrounding the disaster rather than the devastation itself.

I recently came across a quote in a lovely book called Good Person (compiled by Dan Zadra) that summarized how my family tries to deal with the barrage of bad news days:

“The accumulation of small optimistic acts produces quality in our culture and in your life.  Our community resonates in tense times to individual acts of grace.”  – Jennifer James

Perhaps it will help you, too.

© YesKidzCan!, 2011

May 12

Summer is around the corner. That means hot weather, outdoor fun, and . . . kid-run lemonade stands!  It doesn’t matter if the lemonade is too sour, too watery, or too expensive!  Watching our kids set up their stand, earn money, and beam with pride is worth every taste test and mad dash to the store to get that forgotten ingredient!

Now imagine taking this childhood right of passage and turning it into a vehicle for helping others.  That’s just what Team Kids is doing with their LemonAID program. Created after Hurricane Katrina, Team Kids LemonAID was a way for kids to show their support for other kids in New Orleans.  The program has expanded to support wildfires in California, the earthquake in Haiti, Japan Tsunami Relief, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day efforts.  To date, close to $70,000 has been raised for charities with 100% of funds going to the beneficiaries.

So this summer when your kids ask you to unearth the folding table, pitchers, and paper cups, think about turning a cold drink into a heart warming experience for the servers and the receivers!

© YesKidzCan, 2011

Jun 12

It’s pretty upsetting for parents and kids alike to see animals covered in oil or waters and shorelines marred by oil slicks. The Gulf Coast oil spill has reached land in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida – more than 130 miles of damage and spreading.  This crisis poses serious threats to fisherman’s livelihoods, marine habitats, beaches, wildlife, and human health.   So how can we get involved with our kids to lend some support?  Here are some suggestions:  

Help your kids understand.   First, make sure your kids know the facts and impact surrounding the oil spill. Here’s a different approach to consider. The New York Times has published a fill-in-the-blank article in which word and phrases are removed.  Kids are invited to fill in their own words or choose from a listing of available words at the end of the post. 

Pick up trash on beaches.   If you live in effected areas you and your kids can help minimize the impact of the spill once it hits lands by disposing of trash found on beaches. If there are already oil-covered materials, contact a local group to get proper information before going near these kinds of materials.

Notify experts about animals in distress.  If you live in the Gulf Coast areas, you and your kids can keep an eye out for animals in trouble.  However, do not try to assist them on your own.  Call established hotlines for injured animal sightings. One such number is 1-866-557-1401.

Purchase products that support the efforts.  Dishwashing detergent is used to clean oil off bird and animals.  Dawn detergent is offering help.  Take your kids to the store, purchase a bottle of Dawn, and $1 will go to the Marine Mammal Center and the International Bird Rescue Research Center.  (You need to go online to activate your donation – it does not automatically happen with your purchase in the store.)

Write a letter.  You and your kids can send a letter to President Obama in support of stopping all ocean drilling by using a form letter provided by the Sierra Club. 

Provide donations.  For those who do not live in the affected areas, it is not recommended that you travel to the Gulf Coast.   Providing donations through reputable organizations would be greatly appreciated.  Share with your kids some of the groups providing aid and, together, decide about giving a donation.  Several groups include:

-           OilSpillVolunteers

-          The National Wildlife Federation

-           Alabama Coastal Foundation

-          Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana

 -          Save our Seabirds

-          The National Audobon Society  

Even when a crisis seems too big for us to wrap our heads around, there are ways where — together with our kids — we can lend a helping hand, make our voices heard, and be part of the solution.

 © YesKidzCan!, 2010.

Feb 28

First, there was the earthquake disaster in Haiti. The stories and devastation were almost too much to take. Now Chile is rocked by an 8.8 quake. The news coverage and sheer magnitude of one natural disaster – let alone two — can easily frighten and worry our kids. Now what do we do?
Talk: Hopefully, our kids turn to us for answers and reassurance. Encourage your kids to talk. Listen to what they are saying. And provide straight-forward and age-appropriate information.
Support Your Kids’ Interests: Some kids may feel better by channeling their concern into a deeper understanding of the topic. I came across a blog that lists a range of books on earthquakes. One of them may meet your kids’ needs. http://missrumphiuseffect.blogspot/2010/01/thematic-book-list-earthquakes.html
Take Action Together: Allow your kids to participate with you in supporting the relief efforts. Helping others can offer a positive release, create a sense of control over something overwhelming, and lessen your kids’ concerns. Go to http://content.usatoday.com/communities/kindness/post/2010/02/chile-earthquake-how-you-can-help for a list of reputable organizations coordinating relief efforts.
Please post other ideas or resources. The more approaches we share, the better prepared all of us can be to deal with the aftershocks.

©YesKidzCan!, 2010.

Jan 13

When a natural disaster occurs, like the recent earthquake devastation in Haiti, it is hard to wrap my brain around it as an adult and a parent. Not only does it give me pause, I do wonder what my nine-year-old daughter thinks. You might ask how she would even know about such a thing. I do admit that I flip on the television in the morning to catch the weather and traffic before heading out to school.  Many times, I am not quick enough to press the mute button on the remote, and my daughter hears something that requires some explaining. Televisions aside, kids are super good at eavesdropping and will overhear parents’ conversations, older siblings, or classmates talking at school.

What I have decided is this: not only is there a way to explain natural disasters to our kids, there are also ways to involve them in the relief efforts. The “how” and “when” of explaining depends, of course, on the make-up of your individual kid and his or her age. But just today, I found a useful blog from the United Nations World Food Programme  (www.wfp.org/students-and-teachers) that gives straightforward facts and information and tells it like it is without gory details or sugar-coating (which many kids resent). Here’s a snippet: “A powerful earthquake, measuring 7 on the Richter scale struck Haiti… The quake destroyed buildings and left a large number of people homeless. The death toll is unknown, but it is feared to be high with many people injured. Streets are blocked by rubble rendering rescue and assistance efforts difficult. The people in Haiti need your help.” In talking with my daughter, I might choose to focus on there being “many injured” rather than discussing a “death toll.” But my point is that I was grateful to find this resource (written with youth in mind) to help guide my conversation.

So, once you have explained the situation to your kids, how can they help when disaster strikes? First and foremost, Haiti needs monetary donations according to numerous disaster relief organizations. (Down the road, food and clothing donations may be encouraged.) Consider these suggestions:

1. Get online and visit any of the reputable organizations listed below to make a donation. Have your kid(s) sit with you and be part of the donation process.

2. Raise funds together to donate. If your kid(s) are motivated along these lines, you can discuss ways to raise money (from bake sales to making and selling greeting cards to car washing).

3. Purchase products that support the relief effort. One website (www.atriskchildren.org), has t-shirts and hats for purchase and donates a portion of their sales to Haiti relief efforts. In addition, organizations like UNICEF have an “Inspired Gifts” section on their website (http://inspiredgifts.unicef.org) where you can purchase medical, food, school supplies and more. You can even dedicate the purchase to a friend or in your kid’s name. (UNICEF will direct your purchase to the country in greatest need at that time.)

4. Sponsor a child. After the critical relief efforts have occurred, many families are still in dire straights. Consider sponsoring a child in the country where the disaster occurred. Several wonderful organizations make sponsorship easy and fulfilling: Children’s International (www.children.org) and World Vision (www.worldvision.org) are two. Your kids can go online with you and help identify the child you would like sponsor. (We keep a photo of Sandra, the girl we sponsor, in our kitchen as well as exchange letters!)

There’s no question that natural disasters are heart wrenching. Rather than shy away from the topic, consider taking a moment to educate your kids and involve them in a positive way. What do you think? I’d enjoy hearing from you!

You can make donations through any of these organizations that support the disaster relief efforts in Haiti:

www.Cidi.org

www.Interaction.org

www.Globalgiving.org

www.Panamericanrelief.org

www.Unicefusa.org

www.Mercycorps.org

www.Redcross.org

www.Doctorswithoutborders.org

www.SavetheChildren.org

www.Directrelief.org

www.Childfund.org

www.Worldvision.org

www.americares.org

www.pih.org

©YesKidzCan!, 2010.