Never Too Young to Make a Difference
The Peaceful Parenting Newsletter
A free e-mail newsletter from Naomi Drew
Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life,
and not something you do in your spare time.
Marian Wright Edelman
We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.
We must rapidly begin the shift form a thing-oriented society
to a person-oriented society.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Im finally finished with my new book, Hope and Healing: Peaceful Parenting in an Uncertain World, and can breathe once again. Once more, Id like to share an excerpt of it with you, one that inspired me deeply. It is about an extraordinary young man some of you may have already heard about -- Craig Kielburger who, at the age of 12 started an exceptional organization called Kids Can Free the Children. When you read Craigs story below, youll be amazed at what this young man, working almost entirely with other young people, was able to accomplish.
Please share this story with your children and have them share it with everyone they know. It is vitally important, especially now, that our kids realize there are many good people using the power of their lives to make a positive difference in this world. We all have this power, and it exists regardless of age.
As adults we must be intentional about counter-balancing the negativity and violence our children are constantly exposed to. voicing our beliefs is important, but even more so is showing them the power of good through our our actions.
Teaching and modeling peacemaking are also critical. The children we are raising today are the adults of tomorrow. More than ever they need to know how to resolve conflicts, manage anger, and treat others with respect. More than ever they need to know, too, that our actions make a difference like ripples in a pond that radiate out and out and out.
Many of us wonder how we can help our children grow up to be compassionate people who make the world a better place. At the end of Craigs story you will hear from his mother. I had the pleasure of interviewing Theresa Kielberger, and she generously shared some wonderful insights that I will now pass on to you.
A warm thanks to all of you who sent me stories about people who have inspired you. In the next issue I will include a number of them. Keep sharing your stories with me. Each time I receive one, I feel inspired too.
Be well, be healthy, and be peace.
A Real-LIfe Hero
While many teens are steeped in thoughts of dating, clothes, and MTV, eighteen year-old Craig Kielburger is working to save lives.
A native of Toronto, Craig started speaking out for the rights of children since the age of 12. It started when he read about a young boy from Pakistan who was forced into slave labor and was murdered for speaking out. Kids Can Free the Children, the world's largest network of children helping other children, grew out of Craigs concern. Now in 35 countries Craigs organization has over 100,000 active members world-wide.
Craig has traveled all over the world and has witnessed shocking abuses of children like an 8-year-old girl forced to recycle bloody syringes without gloves, and children working with hazardous materials in a fireworks factory. Craig continuously asks this question: If child labor is not acceptable for white, middle-class North American kids, then why is it acceptable for a girl in Thailand or a boy in Brazil?
Kids Can Free the Children has already accomplished so much to help children deprived of basic freedoms. They have raised money to build 300 schools in 23 countries so 15, 000 children can go to school. They have been instrumental in creating alternative sources of revenue for poor families so children can be free from hazardous work, and have helped build two live-in rehabilitation centers for children, and 2 health centers in Nicaragua. Aside from all this, Kids Can Free the Children has distributed over $2,000,000 worth of medical supplies and 60,000 school kits for children.
They are now working with the United Nations to create a Children-to-Children network for peace. One of their main missions is to create partnerships among children around the globe to help kids affected by war.
When I think about Craig Kielburger starting Kids Can Free the Children at age 12, I wondered how can any of us could still believe that one person cant make a difference, regardless of age.
To find out how you can help, go to www.freethechildren.org.
Insights from Theresa Kielburger
When I asked Craigs mom what she had done to raise such an extraordinary son, this is what she said:
We raised Craig with the basic attitude of being concerned about your neighbor. When he came home and talked about kids in the schoolyard being mean to other kids, we would encourage him to help the person who was being hurt. It is so important to teach our children take the risk of being kind to the child who is being picked on. He learned to stand up for the underdog.
From the time Craig was little we taught him that people are basically the same inside and have the same needs. We stressed how important it was to treat each other with respect. The way we behave as adults affects our kids a lot too. It is how we act that influences them most.
Reading plays a big part too. We read a lot to our kids when they were little, lots of stories about people who were kind, patient, honest, and understanding. These stories left a deep impression.
We always nurtured our childrens unique talents and interests. Craigs older brother had a passion for the environment. He started a petition drive to support the environment when he was younger, and Craig would follow him around and help. His brother was a very big influence in his life.
I think a lot of kids feel a sense of passion inside. Kids want to help and we need to encourage them to do so. They also need to join with kids their own age. Kids can be the best role models for each other.
Next year Craig will be traveling across the United States to talk to kids in schools as part of his new project. Free the Children is organizing a Culture of Peace program that stresses peacemaking and tolerance. A team of young people will be joining him and they will be picking team leaders in each schools. Tell your children about this project. You can find out more about this on the Free the Children Website.
Make making a difference a family project. Go to www.freethechildren.org and choose one of their many activities to help out with. Also, encourage your childs school, scouting group, or religious education program to get involved with of the Free the Children projects too. Did you know that in some areas of the world it only costs $3,500 to build a school? Imagine children in a third world country being able to go to school because of your help.
Remember this -- every time we reach out to make a difference, we feel more empowered. Taking action energizes the giver as well as the receiver.
Naomi Drew is the author of three books, all available through Amazon.com:
Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids (Kensington Publishers)
Learning the Skills of Peacemaking (Jalmar Press)
The Peaceful Classroom in Action (Jalmar Press)
Hope and Healing: Peaceful Parenting in an Uncertain World will be released in September of 2002 (Kensington Publishers)
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Copyright Naomi Drew, August, 2001 All Rights Reserved.
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Love and Peace to All of You.