Posts Tagged ‘ social good ’

Why World Food Program USA’s Lunch Money Challenge is a Chance to Teach Your Kids About Charitable Giving

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Pencils. Books. Backpacks. What did your children need as they went back to school this fall? In many areas of the world, the most important thing that children need to be ready to learn is more basic: a nutritious meal! Our ability to access food in the United States is often taken for granted until we realize the true impact of what it means to be hungry. Hungry kids have trouble learning but in countries around the world such as Kenya, Niger, and Honduras, school meals are life changing.

This week the World Food Program USA (WFP USA) is encouraging families around the country to pack lunches for 5 days and donate the money you would have spent buying lunch in your workplace cafeteria or going out to eat to WFP USA’s Lunch Money Challenge. All it takes is a quarter a day to provide a healthy meal for a child through the Home Grown School Meals program, a nutritious and sustainable program that uses food by local farmers.

Providing a nutritious meal each day helps to improve life chances for kids in Honduras, Niger, and Kenya. School meals give poor families an incentive to send their children to school, especially girls who may not otherwise have the opportunity to receive education. The meals help kids reach their full potential by breaking the cycle of hunger and poverty for the world’s most vulnerable kids.

The Lunch Money Challenge can serve as a great springboard for talking about social good with your children since it’s one the whole family can get involved in. Talk to your kids about why you’re bringing lunch this week, rather than buying it from the school cafeteria. Chances are they’ll be on board and happy to give up school pizza for the week. After all, a study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and supported by the United Nations Foundation found that 9 out of 10 American youth between the ages 8-19 give money to organizations that support charitable causes.

According to mom, former teacher, blogger, and social good advocate, Elena Sonnino, “teaching our children to use their voices for good- as change agents- and to be charitable is a gift that we can give them.” Sonnino encourages parents to be a role model but also have a conversation about giving with children that explains our action and behaviors.

If you don’t know where to start, she suggests discussing these questions:

  • Do my children know that I give to charity?
  • Do they know which charities I am supporting?
  • Do they know why I choose to give specifically to this charity and the impact of my giving?

And why do we want to raise charitable children? Sonnino believes that “learning about others and caring about others impacts everyone. Our 21st century children are entering a world with the understanding that what impacts one child, far away, has a ripple effect on all of us.”

So go ahead and get involved by starting with The Lunch Money Challenge. Line up your lunch bags, make some sandwiches, grab a piece of fruit, and repeat it five times and teach your kids how to help others around the world with this very simple act that can make a world of difference.

Image courtesy of World Food Program USA

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Moms+Tweens+Social Good: Fostering Global Citizenship to Strengthen Our World

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Teaching our kids to look outside themselves and think about others can be a challenge when they’re young but as they get older, it’s not too difficult to seize on their empathy and goodwill towards others to teach them about social good and global citizenship. This is the idea behind the first ever Moms+Tweens+SocialGood event organized by Elena Sonnino, a former teacher turned blogger and social good advocate.

This Saturday parents and tweens will convene in Washington, D.C. for panels featuring both moms and tweens, community leaders and role models who will lead discussions about topics like what it means to be a change agent, ways to use your voice for good, how to advocate for a cause, and finding causes or campaigns. The half-day event also includes interactive age-appropriate activities such as how to write letters to Congress and video interviews where tweens will practice communication skills as they talk about why it’s important to be a global citizen.

“Global citizenship is not a residency status, nor is it based on the number of stamps you have in your passport,” says Sonnino. “It is a mindset and belief structure that is built on the fact that we live in an ever-interdependent world, where our colleagues and counterparts are spread out around the globe. More importantly it is built on the premise that fostering sustainable progress and self-sufficiency for children everywhere will strengthen our world.”

How did the idea for this event come about? As a parent of a tween, former Fairfax County Public Schools teacher who always sought to empower her students, and a passion for fostering self sufficiency and inspiring others by sharing travel and social good stories, Sonnino attended the Social Good Summit, and was inspired to create her own +SocialGood event. +SocialGood brings together innovators from around the globe to leverage the power of technology and social media.

As a first-of-its-kind event, organizations such as the United Nations Foundation are eagerly awaiting to see the response from parents and tweens. “We are really excited to process the learnings/findings and watch as this is held up as an example of not only the “philanthroteen” trend,” said Aaron Sherinian (@ASherinian), Vice President of Communications and Public Relations for the United Nations Foundation.

For more information and resources, visit Sonnino’s Grow Global Citizens Facebook page and follow the conversation through #growglobalcitizens on Twitter and Iinstagram.

Image courtesy of Elena Sonnino of LDG Media


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5 Things the Virtual Club Penguin World Teaches Through Online Game Play

Friday, April 12th, 2013

The technology infused world that our children are growing up in includes social interactions that occur in real life and online through virtual worlds and mobile devices. As parents, we’re continually challenged to keep up with the newest forms of technology and methods to teach our kids about safe online behaviors.  One of the best ways to teach kids about appropriate social interactions and social networking in an age appropriate way is through Club Penguin.

With over 200 million kids and their penguins populating the online game, Club Penguin is the most popular virtual world for kids. Often called a social network on training wheels, the game serves as an introduction to the online world for kids ages 6 and above. It also provides a multitude of learning opportunities for children and parents alike. During a recent visit to company headquarters, I received an inside look at this virtual world and discovered five things that children can learn through play in the Club Penguin world.

Online safety— From the start of game play, kids begin learning about online safety as they create their penguin name and avatar. Children can be as creative as they want as they name their penguin but each name is reviewed by a member of the human global moderation team that consists of over 200 people in four locations. Moderators check to ensure that kids aren’t giving up any personally identifying information, such as first or last name and address, in their screen name before being allowed to enter the Club Penguin community.

Creative imaginative play— Club Penguin is a world where kids can be creative and use their imaginations to decorate their igloos with an assortment of items, dress their penguin, and devise creative ways to use the props found in the environment. Chris Heatherly, Vice President of Disney Interactive Worlds (aka Spike Hike in the penguin world), believes “Club Penguin is like a cardboard box. We give kids the tools and let them make the play.” The team spends a lot of time listening to conversations between penguins in the online world to incorporate ideas into the products they make. “Anytime an idea comes from a kid, it’s more powerful than when it comes from us,” says Heatherly.

Empowerment through community— Club Penguin recognizes that kids need a place where they can play and be who they are. Heatherly “encourages kids to be wacky, crazy, be themselves” because “the more YOU you are, the better.” Kids are empowered to express themselves through online game play in a world that’s free of judgment. Creative Lead, Charity Gerbrandt (aka Grasstain), shared Club Penguin  “will love and support you and want you to share your crazy ideas that inspire you.”

Appropriate online behavior- Despite the freedom to be creative, Heatherly recognizes that “kids need to feel safe to have fun.” Heatherly recognizes that kids will be kids and test the boundaries of what is acceptable versus what crosses the line but Club Penguin has a variety of tools in place to ensure safety in the community. Players in the Club Penguin world have the ability to report other penguins for inappropriate behavior with the click of a button on a penguin’s profile. Reports are reviewed by the global moderation team who specializes in pop culture with an eye on trends in music and television to ensure that conversation is appropriate. Reminders about behavior are sent but kids can also be banned from Club Penguin. The first infraction comes with a 24 hour ban, a 72 hour ban for the second, and a lifetime ban for the third.

Charitable giving and social good—  Since Club Penguin was founded in 2005, the company founders have given a percentage of membership fees to charitable projects that help children and families around the world. The company works to empower employees to participate in community projects while Club Penguin inspires kids to make a difference through their Coins for Change campaign. Coins earned during game play can be used personally to purchase items to personalize their igloo, outfit their penguin, take care of their pet puffles or donated through Coins for Change. Kids vote about what causes to support through their coin donations. To date, Club Penguin has donated over $10 million since 2007 to help over 200,000 children and their families each year in over 40 countries around the world. The impact of Coins for Change demonstrates that kids don’t have to wait to be adults to make a difference.  Nicole Rustad, Club Penguin’s Corporate Citizenship Program Director who heads up the Coins for Change, says “we believe that kids can be leaders today and they can change the world through what we do on a daily basis and around the world.”

Club Penguin logo courtesy of Disney Interactive

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