I know local a high school senior who thought students didn’t get enough opportunities to see theatre, so he started The Playhouse Tribe.
I know local a college student who wanted more chances to play music on his violin, so he produced Strings, Songs, and Solidarity.
I know a 14-year old who thought kids weren’t moving enough ‘cause we (the adult “we”) didn’t make exercise fun, so she developed a kids gaming app to encourage walking.
While I don’t have any kids, I seem to know a lot of young people who are excited about something and have decided to make a difference. So, my point is this: it’s very possible for kids to get involved and give back to our city.
I know you’re already thinking, “But how do I even begin to get my five-year-old to start thinking about problems, solutions and action, Lady Without Kids?”
And here’s my answer: you start by giving back yourself. Boom.
Careful…this is the moment when you realize you got sucked in under one premise – finding volunteer opportunities for your kids, then realized I flipped the script. But there’s a whole lotta good information coming at you – I just need to get through the explanation.
So…I work for SA2020.
In a nutshell, SA2020 is an organization that connects the community for a stronger San Antonio. We do this by tracking our city’s progress toward 59 measures of success that were developed through community planning sessions in 2010 & 2011. Wait… say that again…?
The community of San Antonio envisioned an even better city and proclaimed that we would know we were better if we tracked our progress through data. So, SA2020 does just that. In fact, we’ll release our citywide progress report and a newfangled interactive data dashboard on September 25, 2014. (Save the date and all that jazz.)
We use this information to help support partners and engage the public. Basically, we create or identify strategies that are making data actionable. And there are organizations who are moving the needle
It’s in “engagement” that I want to dabble for a moment.
At SA2020, we spend a lot of our time trying to help people find what they are most passionate about, and then connect them to organizations who are working there. You can do that through our online matching system at SA2020.org. Passionate about increasing San Antonio’s air quality? Boom. Excited about increasing high school graduation rates? Boom.
But it’s not just about making the connection, it’s about the “why?”
We work in a “to what end” kind of place, and I think that’s the most important thing we do because it means a stronger San Antonio.
Did you know that a student who isn’t reading on his or her grade level by the end of third grade is four times less likely to graduate high school on time? Further, high school dropouts are approximately 63 times more likely to end up incarcerated. So knowing that, if you had the power to get a second grader to on-level reading, say through a Reading Buddy Program like the one offered by San Antonio Youth Literacy, you might be more inclined to participate… no?
This is the problem with conversations with kids these days. We (and I mean the universal adult “we”) tend to require things of kids without giving them the “why.” It’s why we end up in exhausting conversations with 4-year-olds.
So…I propose we give them the “why” and then give them the opportunity to figure out the “how.”
“But that’s easier said than done, Lady Without Kids.”
But I’m gonna help get you started. In fact, below you’ll find a pretty great list of organizations that you and your kids can help. Believe me, there are others…this is just to get you to start thinking about the awesome things y’all can do.
Needs you no matter what your age, (although you do need a car, so there’s that):
Starts accepting volunteers at five-years-old with a parent:
Can use your 8-year-old:
Starts accepting volunteers at 13:
Needs volunteers 14-years-old and older:
Here’s the deal: volunteering has been shown to create a sense of self worth and instill self-esteem. Plus, students who participate in community service are more likely to graduate from college than those that don’t. Also, young people who grow up in a household where someone volunteers are twice as likely to volunteer regularly and more likely to vote. Win win, win.
So, to get your kids involved, talk to them about the “why.” Through your excitement, you can get them excited about ways that even the tiniest citizens can help build our city of the future. And it’ll make your kids, and your family, stronger in the process. Boom.
Molly is the Chief of Engagement of SA2020. She lives with her five dogs (yep…five dogs) and spends the vast majority of her free time emceeing (or rather MCing) all the things. She has had the pleasure of working with Any Baby Can during their Walk for Autism, Big Brothers Big Sisters during their Bowl for Kids Sake, YOSA for Stop. And Feel the Music, and TEDxSanAntonio for…umm…TEDxSanAntonio. She’s currently working with The Magik Theatre on a brand new event called MAGIKOLOGY: A Night at the Improv, slated for October 25. Mark your calendars! Follow her ridiculousness on the twitter: @themollycox.
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