Community Service Ideas for Kids

community-service-ideas-for-children

Community service projects are an important growing experience for children of all ages. Through working together, children learn to solve problems and make decisions that affect not only themselves, but their community as well. It helps them connect to local concerns, global issues, and gain a greater awareness of others’ well being. These attitudes will serve them both now and after they transition into the adult world. Here are a few ideas that could help get them started.

Community Improvement

  • Pick up litter in a park
  • Plant trees or wildflowers in the community
  • Plant a garden and donate fruits or vegetables to a local food bank
  • Start and maintain a recycling program at school

Literacy Based Ideas

  • Read a newspaper to an elderly person who may have trouble seeing small print
  • Have them read a book to a younger child who is learning how to read
  • Have them read a story to a senior citizen who needs companionship
  • Hold a used book sale and donate the funds collected to a charitable cause

Help Out Children in Hospitals

  • Have them put together a package for children in a hospital such as bubbles, craft supplies, activity books, or other items that may help brighten their day (New Items Only)
  • Hold a crayon, marker, and construction paper drive for the local hospital (New Items Only)

Animal Activities

  • Raise money for homeless or sick animals and donate it to a local cause
  • Help local animal shelters obtain items on their wish lists
  • Hold a fundraiser such as a walkathon or marathon, bowling event, or reading circle and donate the proceeds to a local shelter
  • Put out feeders and water for the local avian community

School Ideas

  • Start a SWAT team, standing for Student Who Assist Teachers.
  • Have children collect loose change around their homes, donating the collections to a charity of their choosing

Other Ideas

  • Visit the Pencil Project Website and collect pencils for needy children
  • Collect used items still in good condition such as athletic shoes, sweaters, scarves, mittens, and other items for those in need
  • Visit the Adopt A Platoon website and collect items for servicemen
  • Participate in the 20 grains of rice activity through the World Food Hunger Program
  • Participate in Earth Day activities

As you can see, there are many great ideas for community service projects. This list is only a short example of ideas that you can use to promote a sense of community and inspire your children.

The Importance of Understanding Special Needs in Children

special-needs

There is an ever rising concern to reshape education for children with special needs. Even though there are several different types of special needs, autism is bringing light to the educational needs of all special needs children. Autism is on the rise and affecting as many as 1 in 68 children. This rising number has brought forth the children who are not receiving enough attention in their educational environment.

With the rising number of children who are diagnosed as autistic, there is an increase in the number of parents who are learning what it means to have a child with special needs. All of these parents are determined to get their children the best education possible, but many teachers are not well trained in handling children with special needs. This indicates that families have been turning to more private schools than public schools.

Autism Speaks came around about the same time as social media, which has helped give a voice to those trying to promote awareness for autism in a world that does not know how to handle special needs. They started the trend for special education advocacy on social media and have paved the way for many people to get the word out about special needs. For example, Decoding Dyslexia has followed Autism Speaks and has been campaigning on social medias well. There has been a success in passing certain legislation that has something to do with dyslexia in over half of the United States.

Due to social media splitting up different types of special needs, education is making a stronger push to take a look at the different requirements that come with the varying conditions. Not all special needs children have the exact same needs, especially if you see that those with autism tend to have differing commitments than others with the same developmental disorder.

Board Certified Behavior Analysts are key to helping schools with the individual plans for each child with special needs. This is a career that is in high demand, and even more so needed in education. BCBAs are able to make more money in healthcare and private practice divisions than they typically do in the education sector, which makes it difficult to get BCBAs to apply to schools where they are most needed.

There are several changes that need to be made within public special education programs. They are underperforming and not meeting the needs of the children or the wants of the parents. On a positive note, special education has finally been put at the forefront of today’s society, and is starting to receive the changes necessary to help all children with developmental disorders.

5 Benefits of Afterschool Programs

Carl Turnley

Education is obviously one of the most crucial parts of growth for a child. The classes taken teaching them skills that can be applied to the modern world prepare them life outside of school. However, their education should not be limited to within these buildings’ walls.

Afterschool programs are extremely beneficial in terms of continued growth for your child, and should be strongly considered depending on his or her interests. From karate classes, to instrumental lessons, to painting, children have a wide range of opportunities to choose from, all of which can enhance their development. With that said, here are five of the greatest benefits that come with enrolling children in afterschool programs.

Improves Academic Performance

Many afterschool programs allow for children to do their homework when present, and even offer help if needed. Working in a much more casual environment may inspire them to ask more questions, and generally show more interest in the work that they’re doing. Some programs even focus specifically on certain subjects, like math, science, and computers. This can directly lead to more enthusiasm when learning about these subjects in school.

Increases Confidence

As mentioned before, the casual environment of afterschool programs can give children a sense of ease. There may be feelings of pressure in school and certain classes that students feel, inhibiting them from contributing as much as they’d like to. When taking part in an activity that they genuinely enjoy after school however, chances are they will be much more likely to try new things and challenge themselves. This can improve self-esteem quite substantially, which is profound for those with learning or attention issues.

Similarly, an increased sense of confidence can translate to leadership skills. Once these are developed, a child may be bore inclined to take initiative and join a student board, school clubs, or assist teachers during or after class. A trait like this is one that is extremely vital in the working world.

Enhances Social Skills

Groups of children taking part in activities that they enjoy together are much more likely to interact with one another; something that isn’t seen quite as often in the classroom. Afterschool programs promote interaction among their participants, and are great platforms for children to build their social skills upon. Experienced staff members are present to correct and teach a child should they act out, which can again sharpen their interactive abilities.

Provides Physical Activity

Programs like the YMCA offer several physical activities for children to play, like swimming, soccer, flag football, and much more. Not only does this keep them active and healthy, but it promotes a healthy lifestyle in general. Additionally, these programs may teach children the importance of nutrition, and provide healthy snacks.

Keeps Kids Occupied

Many parents today may work longer hours that directly compete with their child’s school schedule. While some jobs today are more accommodating, it can be difficult to leave early every day to ensure you are home when your child is. Afterschool programs can effectively act as modes of childcare in addition to their educational benefits. Though they should never be seen as merely babysitting platforms, these programs can keep children in a safe environment while their parents are still at their places of work.

 
In fact, studies have shown that teens whose parents’ work schedules may conflict with theirs are more likely to engage in risky behavior; something afterschool programs can help with by keeping them occupied and off the streets.

Teaching Your Fearful Dog Calmness

teaching-dog-calmness

Every dog, no matter their background or disposition, deserves a second chance. Many of the dogs that are rescued from shelters have gone through unspeakable abuse through no fault of their own. When you have a fearful dog, it’s often through no fault of their own. If you have a fearful dog, it’s up to you to teach them calmness. Luckily, it’s not too difficult. I recently read some tips from none other than the legendary “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan. Here is what he had to say:

When your child is afraid, it’s only natural to want to comfort them and tell them that everything will be okay. Your dog might feel like your child, but comforting them like that is actually the worst thing you can do. Dogs relate your behavior to whatever it’s doing in that moment. That’s how positive reinforcement works; if you want to teach your dog to “shake,” associate that behavior with a reward. To dogs, one of the best rewards is affection. So when you comfort a fearful dog, you’re rewarding it for acting scared.

Over time, rewarding a dog for its fearful behavior, even if it’s unintentional, can make an already timid dog even more skittish and fearful. It’s difficult not giving your dog unconditional love at all times, particularly when they’re clearly afraid. But, in that instance, they don’t need to be comforted, they need to see leadership. Dogs learn by imitating, so when your dog is afraid, you need to act calm and assertive, which can help make them more confident.

It’s important to remember that dogs do have the common animal instincts possessed by so many. They can be narrowed down to four: fight, flight, avoidance, and surrender. When your dog is experiencing fear, their first response will almost always be either flight or avoidance. Obviously, you’ll want to prevent the fight response as best you can, but this can occur in extreme cases. The goal is to make them surrender, which is them accepting whatever the stimulus is without reacting to it. This can be done by displaying calm, assertive energy.

Dogs are surprisingly intuitive about our feelings. Your dog can often tell when you’re sad, afraid, or excited. So, when you act afraid, your dog will pick up on that. Humans are typically the leaders of the pack, and when you’re afraid, that leadership role is empty and a dog’s natural reaction is to take over, which could lead to the dog acting aggressive out of fear. This, in turn, creates a feedback loop that exacerbates the situation. Therefore, a fearful dog needs, more than anything else, a calm and assertive leader to show them that everything is okay.

The Boys & Girls Club of America

boys-and-girls-club

The Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA), of which I am a proud supporter, is primarily an after-school program that was designed to keep young people safe, and to help guide them to reach their maximum potential to becoming a responsible, caring, and productive citizen within the community.

According to the BGCA youth outcome data, 97% of teens that attending Club regularly expect to graduate from high school and 88% of them plan to attend some type of formal continuing education program. Almost three-fourths of Club youth volunteer in their community. In addition, when attended on a consistent basis, it has been proven that 90% of club members in the 9th grade abstained from drinking alcohol. This is mainly due to the fact that regular Club attendees stand up for what is right, even when their friends are not in agreement.

The ultimate vision for this organization is that every young person who crosses the threshold of a Boys and Girls Club is given an opportunity to become a high school graduate with a beautiful vision of the future that lies ahead of them. In addition, they are taught how to live in a healthy manner and also they will be shown how to display good character traits among their peers and with their community. The main purpose of BGCA is to engage young people in positive programs, to inspire them to see the world in a positive way, and to empower them to make a positive impact within their community.

Some of the programs offered by the BGCA include, but certainly not limited to:

PLAY BALL – a program for all ages and it focuses on increasing the overall physical fitness level of the child while teaching them basic skills of the game of baseball.

CAREER LAUNCH – a program designed for young people between the ages of 13 and 18 and it focuses on exploring different vocations for their future, make solid decisions regarding their future work and also to find success in a chosen career.

NATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY – this program allows the youth to view their beautiful surroundings through the lens of a camera

DIY STEM – a program that is designed to reach the young people who have a heart for science.

SMART MOVES – This program is designed to educate as well teach young people about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse, and also to avoid engaging in premature sexual activities.

In addition to the above mentioned, there are also programs specific to drama and entertainment, technologies workshops, money matters, and music makers.

For more information about the Boys and Girls Club of America, I encourage you to reach out and become part of something that will engage, inspire, and empower the next generation in a positive way.

The Value of No-Kill Animal Shelters

no-kill-animal-shelters

As an animal lover and financial supporter of no-kill animal shelters myself, I understand the importance and significance that these programs hold in saving the lives of homeless and ‘unwanted’ animals. It’s an unfortunate problem that not many people address today.

There are currently over 70 million stray animals in the United States, of which only 6 to 8 million dogs and cats find animals shelters annually. The only reasons why these animals successfully make it to our country’s shelters is because of their owners either giving them up, or animal control officers finding them in the wild. But, even then, many of the cats and dogs rescued are subjected to a similar fate by being given to facilities that promote euthanization to control population sizes.

Approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized every year, largely due to the fact that most shelters do not have the space permitting for the number of cats and dogs received on a regular basis, along with adoption rates not being able to keep up. However, depending on the type of shelter, many homeless or ‘unwanted’ animals are able to once again find their way back to a loving home. Private shelters, for example, often have contracts that allow them to work with their local governments for funding sources, additional help in finding homes for these animals, and enforcing stricter animal care laws.

The standard practices within these facilities also differ in terms of dealing with the increasing size of the animal population. For example, standard shelters typically euthanize cats or dogs who have not been claimed in a shockingly small 72-hour window, thus stressing the importance of no-kill shelters.

The only reason why a cat or dog may be euthanized within a no-kill shelter is because they are suffering from an irreparable disease or injury, which is then for the good of the animal. Doing so as a means of controlling the shelter numbers is never policy. Because of this, communities working together to save homeless and ‘unwanted’ animals are able to rescue up to 90% of those found, without worrying about euthanization.

No-kill shelters are also responsible for largely promoting adoption, spay and neuter programs, donations, and fellow programs benefitting an animal’s well-being. They strive to work collaboratively with other organizations dedicated to placing animals in loving homes, and avoid senselessly putting down those without them simply due to the fact that their facilities are not big enough. Though some people may argue that allowing at-risk animals through their doors is unsafe, that is the point of no-kill shelters; to give each animal a fighting chance.

Stray animals may appear hostile when approached by any individual, but trained professionals working with no-kill shelters are able to rescue those without homes regardless of age or breed. Sadly, pit-bulls and “bully breeds” are often discriminated against depending on the community’s laws. Nearly every no-kill shelter though, rejects this false belief that one breed is more dangerous than another, accepting all animals into their facilities.

 
Today, the number of animals euthanized has thankfully decreased in recent decades because of the no-kill shelter movement. This humane trend is beginning to take effect in many cities across the United States, leading to a higher number of rescued animals and more volunteers willing to devote their time to this cause. While establishing no-kill shelters in every community across America is unlikely, there are strategies we can put in place, along with the combined efforts of those passionate enough to make a change, that can lead to this ideal goal.

10 Charity Organizations Working To Decrease World Hunger

Carl Turnley

The Hunger Project

The Hunger Project works throughout 22 countries to end hunger and poverty.  While the organization does not distribute food, it works with rural and poverty populations to teach life skills to overcome hunger.  A network of individuals and company partners work in more than 24,000 communities, reaching 20 million people around the world.  The Hunger Project is leading communities to make improvements in health, education, gender-based violence, hunger and income.

 

CARE

As a community-based effort, CARE works to improve education, access to health care and increase income opportunity.  Operating in 94 countries across the globe, more than 80 million individuals are reached through 1,000 different projects.  CARE also responds to emergencies to address individual and community survival needs.

 

Concern Worldwide US

Reaching the poorest communities in the world, Concern Worldwide US helps fight malnutrition, disease and disasters.  Emergency response is provided after disasters to help families and communities rebuild.  Concern Worldwide US helps communities suffering from the stresses of climate change by teaching agricultural skills.  Since 1968 the organization provides long-term development in over 50 countries.

 

International Rescue Committee

International Rescue Committee (IRC) gives emergency response and aid to refugees and individuals displaced by war, natural disaster or persecution.  Working in over 40 countries including the United States, IRC provides long-term assistance by resettling and teaching life skills for refugees to become self-sufficient.  The IRC responded to the earthquake disaster in Haiti in 2010 and is currently working to improve advocacy and resettlement of Iraqis misplaced by war.

 

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)

The Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) helps improve education, health care, finance, agriculture, government and social protection to help those in poverty.  IPA works with businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations to develop anti-poverty interventions.  Research for anti-poverty intervention is analyzed and researched in controlled studies to publicize poverty relief intervention recommendations.  20 countries are participating in IPA programs to further research reaching over 100 million people across such countries as Africa, South America and Asia.

 

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger established in 1979 with the mission to end child malnutrition and provide safe drinking water to poverty communities.  Since its start, the humanitarian organization outreached to over 40 countries and reduced the global mortality rate of malnourished children under five.  To reduce the global mortality rate, the Action Against Hunger Scientific Committee created a therapeutic milk formula designed to treat acute malnutrition.  Action Against Hunger partners with top food and beverage industry leaders to raise awareness about global hunger.

 

International Childcare

International Childcare (ICC) helps children to relieve poverty and sickness while providing children education all over the world.  The programs offered to children in poverty focus on providing shelter, health care services and education.  With numerous projects in different countries, the ICC sees an average of 400 patients a day treating malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases.  One of the main programs offered through ICC is caring for children with disabilities in the Dominican Republic.

 

Oxfam

Working with 17 national organizations to fight poverty, Oxfam is dedicated to finding the causes and effects of poverty.  Emergency relief services reached over 90 countries since 1951.  Today, Oxfam responds to over 30 emergency situations across the world.  Oxfam supplies long-term development programs, emergency assistance and political advocacy to those in poverty.  The organization also deals with issues including climate change, gender equality, indigenous and minority rights, natural resources, and HIV/AIDS.

 

Population Services International (PSI)

Population Services International (PSI) provides affordable health care products and services to communities through health education.  PSI dedicates itself to family planning, HIV/AIDS treatment, gender-based violence, maternal health and clean drinking water.  Programs operate throughout 60 countries and help raise awareness toward treatment of diseases related to high mortality rates in children under five.

 

Project Healthy Children (PHC)

Working with national governments and manufacturers around the world, PHC works with producers to supply staple foods with essential micronutrients to overcome hunger.  Food fortification reaches over 55 million people in countries such as Liberia, Honduras and Rwanda.  Fortified foods are provided to an individual for an average of 25 cents per year.

 

Philanthropic Volunteering: Combining Travel and Altruism

Carl Turnley is both an avid traveler and a proponent of philanthropic involvement. In culmination of the two, Carl hosts blogs on the subjects, covering his philanthropic endeavors, the causes he supports and how he gets involved on CarlTurnley.org; on CarlTurnleyTravel.com, he offers advice, insight and paints pictures of the world of travel that he has experienced first-hand.

 

Now, Carl has decided to outline how these two interests (three, if you count blogging) come together, giving a look into the world of altruistic travel.

carl turnley philanthropy

 

Combining Travel and Philanthropy | Carl Turnley

 

Why Volunteer When you Travel?

As someone who is heavily invested in both traveling and getting involved with international causes the importance of combining the two is evident.

We travel for a number of reasons, the last of which is certainly not to explore a new area, open our eyes to new cultures and gain a more worldly perspective. These opportunities–whether they’re focused on business, pleasure, or philanthropy–can help expand our cultural horizons and better understand and empathize with those around us.

The addition of volunteering abroad only does more to improve your stay. You might not have as much time to relax on the beach or dine at upscale establishments, but the reward of knowing you’ve helped those in need far exceeds a day tanning by the water.

How To Get Involved

If you’re an active member of a church or other religious association you’ve more than likely got more than just a few opportunities in front of you. Mission trips organized by religious organizations are a common, year-round expenditure that will allow you to travel at low (or no) cost to countries in need. There, you’ll undertake a number of tasks that typically range from infrastructural improvements, construction of homes, shelters and ministries, and volunteering at local events where needed.

If you’re less religious, other travel-volunteer programs offer the ability to get involved in hands-on manners around the world. Those like Global Vision International  do an incredible job of pairing volunteers with those in need internationally. The possibilities of how you can get involved are nearly endless–for a longer list, check this CNN article.

Where To Travel

The options available to you are extremely far-reaching. Though you may picture building churches in a third-world country as the “typical” volunteer mission trip, if you’re not as physically fit as some volunteers or think that you’re not up for it, other organizations offer the opportunity to teach English, educate locals on how to improve their living conditions, or volunteer on farmland or with endangered animals around the world.

Helping After a Disaster: Why It’s Important to Be Cautionary

Carl Turnley Haiti

 

In the wake of a disaster, human beings are unique in their desire to help.

Almost as one, we stand up and ask how we can help. Can we send food? Can we send supplies? Can we offer our homes, our money or even words of encouragement to help in times of absolute need?

When Hurricane Matthew swept through the Caribbean it left behind it a path of destruction, death and despair while making its way to the southeast United States. Lacking a solidified government and the advanced infrastructure that nations like the United States or the Bahamas can tout, Haiti was devastated by the severe weather. The death count continues to climb, currently over 1,000 according to the Huffington Post.

Amidst news of death, destroyed infrastructure, displaced people and decimated morale across the small island nation, humans around the world rose to help. In almost a mirror image of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the American Red Cross allowed people to donate money quickly and efficiently to Haiti’s relief efforts simply by texting a number.

But suddenly, things changed abruptly–reports came in that some people were warning Americans not to donate to the American Red Cross for Haiti relief. In fact, it was the Haitians, in large part, who were warning against it. They claimed that the donations in past disaster relief efforts had been largely squandered.

At this point in time, it may be in the best interest to listen to them. Understanding where your donations are going is the single most important part of making a charitable donation. Having the knowledge that your funds are being lost simply lining the pockets of the employees at a nonprofit, being poorly managed, or otherwise being called into question should put a halt in your donations quickly.

You know by now that you should do your due diligence when deciding on a charity to which you’ll donate some money. But sometimes it takes more than a simple Google search to make a conclusion. CharityWatch gives the ARC an A- rating–proof that they can (and often do!) coordinate large scale efforts and help those in need. But foreign relief efforts are often best handed by foreign NGOs, or ones that work closely with foreign governments.

A natural disaster, especially one that has claimed so many lives and devastated entire countries is worthy of an extra charitable look. These people are people–human beings–who need help that they simply cannot provide for themselves. However, times of dire need are not the times to begin throwing caution to the wind. Make sure that the nonprofits that you’re donating to are both legitimate and appropriately use their funds in the most efficient way possible.

To help Haiti with Hurricane Matthew relief, consider donating directly to Doctors Without Borders or Help for Haiti, two relief efforts that are primed to make a difference.

Charities That Fly Under the Radar

Certain charities exist in the U.S. that are nearly universally known. People have heard of these charities, know what they do, and have possibly donated to them in the past. These charities might include Make-A-Wish, Salvation Army, The American Cancer Society, and Goodwill. While these charities do a lot of good and support great causes, there are also many lesser-known charities that also provide awesome services. Here’s a list of smaller charities that have received stellar ratings on Charity Navigator, which evaluates how well a charity uses their finances and how accountable they are with reporting information.

 

India Development and Relief Fund

This charity is based in Maryland and focuses on providing “support for programs that improve education, healthcare, women empowerment, governance, and eco-friendly livelihoods at grassroots level all across India, and Nepal.” The organization currently focuses on assisting those living in Nepal who were affected by the devastating earthquakes that recently occurred.

 

Pediatric Cancer Foundation

This foundation runs the Sunshine Project, which allows researchers and doctors to work together with the singular goal of treating childhood cancer, a fairly novel approach. They have been able to develop less toxic drugs that may help children whose treatment wasn’t previously effective. The foundation also funds a lot of research around pediatric cancer.

 

Puppies Behind Bars

The purpose of this charity is to train wounded veteran and law enforcement service dogs. They accomplish this goal by giving puppies to inmates, who raise and train the dogs from the age of 8 to 24 weeks. The dogs are then placed with wounded veterans at no cost. Around 800 puppies have been trained since 1997.

 

Alpha House of Tampa

Alpha House assists homeless mothers or pregnant women who are in crisis and do not have much support to care for themselves and their children. The charity offers health care, housing, parenting classes, education, and assistance in developing skills that allow these mothers to be self-sufficient.

 

Better Basics

Better Basics strives to encourage literacy with at-risk children in the Birmingham, Alabama area. They run intervention and education programs, in addition to handing out free books to local children. Last year, over 80,000 books were donated to schoolchildren. Even though literacy rates in the United States are fairly high, there are still thousands of children who struggle to read.

 

Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide

The Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) seeks to assist attorneys and researchers on an international level. ELAW provides these people with the resources necessary to protect the environment through passing legislation or upholding that which is already in place. More than 300 scientists and lawyers spread throughout 70 countries are a part of ELAW.