Our Children Are Capable of Changing the World — If We Let ThemDawn Meehan
Over the years, my kids have asked, on hot summer days, if they could have a lemonade stand. I acquiesced, less than enthusiastically because I know that “lemonade stand” is actually code for making a sticky mess in the kitchen, taking odds and ends from the garage in order to construct a lemonade stand, drinking all of their inventory, then (assuming they actually sell a cup or two) taking the dollar or so that they’ve earned and spending it on candy at the corner gas station — all while leaving everything a giant mess at home. Of course, not all kids run a lemonade stand quite like that. Meet Vivienne, an 8-year-old who sells lemonade to raise money for charity:
So much about this video (and really, all the Citizen Kid videos) astounds me. First of all, the girl in this video is 8 years old! EIGHT! I have an 8-year-old daughter and I cannot imagine her being so passionate about helping others that she would commit to setting up a lemonade stand day after day, for months on end, with a goal of raising $150,000 to free 500 child slaves. Not that my daughter isn’t compassionate and generous, but this girl’s determination is impressive for anyone, let alone an 8-year-old girl.
I’m completely impressed by the parents’ reaction to their daughter’s idea. How would you react if your second-grader told you she had a great plan to set up a lemonade stand until she’d earned $150,000 to donate to charity? I’m guessing that most of us would humor her and help her set up a stand for a day, knowing full-well that she’d get bored after a day or two and be done with it. Not this family. I love how her mother says, “We’ve always been a sort of a why not? family. We just say, ‘Why not?’ and we give it a try and who knows where it’s going to lead you?” What a terrific attitude! What could you accomplish if you had someone backing you with a why not? attitude? What could your kids accomplish?
I’m also amazed by the generosity of this young girl. How amazing is it that she did all this to help free children from slavery? It’s so great that Vivienne feels such compassion for others. I think most 8-year-old children would have opted to go on a shopping spree at the toy store.
So how do we, as parents, encourage this sense of citizenship? How do we show our kids that it’s important to think of others and to give of our time, talents, and money? I think we can take some cues from this video:
Don’t assume your children are too young to do something big.
Even 8-year-olds can do amazing things!
Develop a why not? attitude.
Instead of thinking, “Why bother?” turn it around and say, “Why not?” What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe something incredible will come of it.
Teach your children to think of others.
Share stories about other people and their needs. Lead by example. Even young kids who have little to give can still learn to be generous with what they have. For the past few years I’ve worked in a middle school where more than half the kids are on the free and reduced lunch programs. Despite this, last year the kids at my school brought in over 3,000 food items to help the needy during Thanksgiving. They donated 1,023 toys for a Christmas toy drive and raised $3,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Remember that with a little encouragement, ordinary kids can accomplish extraordinary things!