Superheroes, wizards, royalty, celebrities, historical figures – these are probably who most kids (and adults!) imagine when we talk about people who change the world. The truth? Every person has the ability to make a difference. Even better, it only takes small, simple acts to strengthen relationships, homes, and communities. These 5 family-friendly “Be Statements” will empower even the littlest people to make a big impact.
Practicing kindness is one of the most powerful ways to make a difference, and it’s also one of the easiest! Sharing, including people in games, writing a note or drawing a picture, offering a seat or holding a door – these are all gestures of kindness kids can incorporate into their daily lives. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself, too!
Every day, family members can commit to doing one good deed. It might be the same activity every day or something new each time. Get creative and brainstorm together! Maybe you do the dishes together after dinner, clean up litter, bring in a neighbor’s mail, help a sibling with homework; the sky’s the limit. For extra inspiration, create a log of the good deeds you perform to read and reflect on together.
Showing gratitude to others isn’t just a polite thing to do; science shows that it benefits us physically, too! From lowered anxiety and blood pressure to better immune function, gratitude is healthy for the body and the spirit. Encourage kids to thank their teachers, neighbors, friends and family members. Spend time as a family reflecting on your blessings, and explore how you might share them with others.
Planting a garden and caring for nature can be tangible ways to make a mark on the world. Beautifying a space, giving care and resources to help something grow, creating an environment that benefits other living creatures, and sharing a harvest are all meaningful ways to connect to the earth and to the living creatures around us.
Does your child have a fascination with food? A love of libraries? An admiration for animals? Channel those passions into action! A budding chef might enjoy helping serve meals at a soup kitchen. A voracious reader could donate used books to their school or community center. An animal lover may help organize a blanket drive for a local shelter or wildlife rescue. When kids are able to turn their interests into action, they’re more likely to feel motivated, engaged, and fulfilled by the work they do.
Real-Life Kid Difference Makers
Robbie Bond – Park Protector
Robbie Bond, who grew up on the island of Oahu in Hawai’I, has always been passionate about nature and the environment. In 2017, he founded the organization Kids Speak For Parks, which advocates for National Parks and encourages children to appreciate and preserve them. From speaking at school, and creating videos of himself exploring parks, to developing a VR-based National Park curriculum, and even an episode of Disney+ show Marvel’s hero Project, Robbie’s a force of, and for, nature.
Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny – Fighting for Flint
In 2016, when Mari Copeny was 8 years old, she wrote a letter to the White House about the ongoing water crisis in her hometown of Flint, Michigan. Months later, Little Miss Flint – the nickname Mari earned in beauty pageants – met then-president Barack Obama. Mari stood up and spoke out about the lead and contaminants in her town’s water, and Flint received $100 million in relief thanks to her efforts. Mari has continued to work on behalf of her community and others, with her projects Flint Kids raising over $600,000 for things like backpacks and school supplies, holiday and community events, book donations, and bottled water distribution. She’s also developed her own water filter, has worked with organizations locally and across the country, and has been featured in news and magazines around the world. What next for Little Miss Flint? She plans to run for President in 2044.
Ryan Hickman – Recycling Royalty
Preschoolers aren’t usually known for their cleaning abilities, but Ryan Hickman wasn’t most preschoolers. After a trip to the recycling center with his dad, then 3-year-old Ryan was motivated to collect cans and bottles from his neighbors in Orange County, California to turn in. Those neighbors told more people about Ryan’s recycling efforts, and then those people spread the word, and before he knew it, his bustling recycling center had customer all over the region. Ryan’s passion for recycling became a viral sensation in 2017, and shortly afterward he founded the nonprofit Project3R, which educates people around the world about recycling, pollution, and environmental issues. To date, Ryan is responsible for recycling over 1.5 million cans and bottles!