February 6, 2013

Sowing the Seeds of Compassion in YOUR Kids

I'd like to welcome Go Inspire Go's new guest blogger and GIG Spark Mom-bassador: Kala Shah is a non-profit and philanthropic consultant and mom to 3 young boys, who was inspired by Go Inspire Go (GIG) and Toan Lam to launch the GIG Community Heroes Club at Sun Valley Elementary in San Rafael, Calif. She hopes to inspire others to get their GIG on and launch service clubs in their own communities! Kala will be updating us on her adventure with these new changemakers. Stay tuned for her blog updates every month. Welcome Kala!

 
By Kala Shah and Toan Lam

As a mom of three young boys, my hope is to raise good kids who are kind to one another. I struggled to find concrete ways to teach these lessons. Last year I met GIG’s Chief Inspirator, Toan Lam, at an LinkedIn/Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) event promoting philanthropy and doing good, a perfect setting to cultivate a meaningful new friendship. We immediately hit it off, marveling about how innately good and generous young kids are. How do you harness all that beauty and goodness and unleash it? What could we do to propel kids to make their mark on the world? Toan gave me the energy and spark to make good on my promises to myself and my kids — to live in gratitude and to give back.

Several working lunches later, Toan and I had come up with a theory and an idea we were willing to test. If we provide young kids a space to express their concerns about the community and a little support to inspire them to action, who knows what may transpire? I invited Toan to present GIG’s Lesson on Compassion to 500 students at my son’s elementary school, Sun Valley School in San Rafael, Calif. "What can YOU do?" he asked the kids.



Marin is known for its natural beauty, affluence and sense of community. While all of the above is true, as you saw in the video, there are many folks living in need. Even some students at Sun Valley come from low-income families. This kicked off the launch of Sun Valley’s Community Heroes club, facilitated by yours truly. A few months later, the kids are excitedly helping local causes. Every week, I was surprised to see how many kids showed up during their lunch hour, ready to discover ways to use their power to help in whatever way they could. Many went home collecting Ziploc bags full of change to donate to causes they believe in. Up to 40 kids meet to talk about problems they see in the community and take actions to help out.

Here’s our impact so far:

* I was impressed that the kids identified these very adult issues: helping the hungry, homeless, foster kids, animals and those who can’t afford medicine. Whew, we have a lot of work to do!

* We collected 80 coats to benefit a great local organization called Canal Alliance, which assists low-income, Spanish-speaking immigrants acquire the tools they need to thrive in their newly adopted home.

* Kids have set up lemonade stands and sold their own books in their free time to raise money to help people in need.

We may just end up sowing the seeds of compassion so that by the time these students are in high school and required to perform service hours, they will be service veterans conducting sophisticated and deeply impactful projects within the community. Let’s see how far these ripples flow!

I realized that in giving these kids a forum to brainstorm, problem solve and take action, I too was getting something back. Through GIG Community Heroes, I am finally fulfilling this deep-seated desire and obligation to give back to my kids and the community.

Feeling inspired? Want to start your own GIG Community Heroes Club? Join us on this journey to inspire your community. Let’s expand our platform together.

Take Action:
How can you start your own Community Heroes club? Here are some great resources to help you get started:

1)    GIG Spark Lesson on Compassion 
2)    Get connected to Generation On and Kids Care
3)    Our presentation on Inspiring Service GIG's blog


What can YOU do?

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