For many of us, November has been exhausting. The contentiousness of the U.S. presidential election has kept many who work with children and youth on edge. Our children are like sponges and soak up the good and the bad of our collective behavior. Unfortunately, many have picked up on the not-so good.
But all hope is not lost.
We have opportunities to transform how people relate to one another in our communities and classrooms. I recently attended the International Bullying Prevention Association Conference in New Orleans. The theme was “Getting to the Bottom of It: Bullying Prevention through Empathy and Kindness.”
Kindness is powerful. Author and education expert Dr. Michelle Borba noted in her opening keynote that empathy is “we” not “me.” Instilling a we attitude in our children is vital. This can be done in and out of school through experiential activities.
Sunday, Nov. 13, gave us all an opportunity to turn me into we as the nation observed World Kindness Day, a 24-hour global campaign dedicated to paying it forward and focusing on the good. Empowered Flower Girl encourages you to engage – and engage youth – in activities that make a difference year round!
Make kindness go viral.
Volunteers make a difference in communities across the country and around the world. Studies have shown that giving back through service can positively impact mental and physical health. If that’s the case, then Simone Bernstein is the poster child of wellness. Simone, 24, is the co-founder of VolunTEEN Nation, a comprehensive national organization designed to help youth and families find volunteer opportunities. She’s been an active volunteer in and around her community for more than a decade.
We had a chance to connect with the George Washington University Medical School student last month after stumbling upon volunTEENnation.org.
1. When you were in middle/high school, what were some of your volunteer experiences? I first started volunteering at my local library when I was in middle school. I helped check-out and shelve books. Through word-of-mouth I learned of other opportunities for teens in my community. Since I was interested in a career in medicine, when I was 16, I volunteered at the local VA Hospital. Having a variety of volunteer experiences helped me network, develop skills and explore career options. I realized that all youth can benefit from volunteering, but there were limited ways for teens to find opportunities. So in 2009, I created a regional website for youth to find and easily connect with volunteer opportunities in the St. Louis region. The interest from the regional website encouraged my brother and I launch a national website to engage youth throughout the nation in service.
2. As a medical student and nonprofit founder, how do you balance academics and altruism? Med school is challenging, so we are truly fortunate to have a great team of high school and college students that volunteer their time to organize, plan and lead events for volunTEENnation.org.
3. What advice would you give to teens or young adults who want to make a difference but don’t know where to start? Call non-profit organizations in your area and ask how you can help either on site or off site. For example, a homeless shelter could benefit from a personal hygiene products drive or food banks welcome a healthy food drive. Students can also offer to oversee the social media tasks like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for an organization.
Networking event unites community and civic minded professionals for a cause
After a successful launch in January with the Mentoring Month Mix & Mingle, the Inspired Professionals Series continues with “For the Love of (_______): Proclaim Your Passion” from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26.
The series is hosted by Empowered Flower Girl (EFG) in partnership with the Skyline Club, 2000 Town Center, in Southfield.
“The Inspired Professionals Series brings together community and civic minded individual for purposeful networking,” said Rasheda Kamaria, EFG chief empowering officer and founder. “For the Love of attendees will have an opportunity to share what they’re up to in the world, build their dream teams and learn from others making a powerful difference.”
Admission is $15 per person and includes appetizers, drink ticket for the lounge after the presentation and giveaways. Reservations are required. Call the Skyline Club at 248-350-9898 to RSVP or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“For the Love of (_______): Proclaim Your Passion”supports Alternatives for Girls and its mentoring program. Monetary and/or in-kind donations will be accepted.
Thinking about volunteering but don’t know where to start? Empowered Flower Girl’s Rasheda Kamaria offers the following tips to help you find and cultivate your passion:
— Research organizations that focus on the issues you care about the most or create opportunities for yourself to make a difference. Do you want to make the world a better place children and teens? Consider mentoring or tutoring. Passionate about saving the planet? Start a sustainability program at your workplace.
— There are numerous causes and charities in which to get involved. Websites like Idealist.org and Volunteermatch.org are great resources to help you find opportunities that touch, move and inspire you to take action.