Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Goodie Bags Build Assets

My friends Mary & Lauren have been doing a thoughtful family project to help people that are homeless. They help their children decorate lunch bags with cheerful pictures, then they fill the bags with nonperishable snacks like granola bars, raisins, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, juice boxes... When they drive past a homeless person asking for money, they share one of their bags of goodies.

This would be an easy project to do with a class or afterschool club, and you can engage children ages 2-22.

It's a safe and simple way to help people in need. It teaches your children to recognize people that are in need, and find ways to help. It encourages your children to be creative. It helps families combat the me-me-me attitude that creeps up on all of us.

Here are some of the specific assets this project helps to build:

Youth as resources. Young people are given useful roles in the community. Service to others. Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.
Adult role models. Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behaviour.
Creative activities. Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theatre, or other arts.
Caring. Young person places high value on helping other people.
Equality and social justice. Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
Responsibility. Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
Planning and decision making. Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
Interpersonal competence. Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
Cultural competence. Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.

I'd love to hear about simple ways you've seen children help people in need! You can email me at ann(at)theassetedge(dot)net or simply leave a comment below.