Children – Our Hope for a Brighter Future

by Laura Page

Executive Director – Kids Helping Kids
www.kidzhelpingkids.org

Kids Helping KidsKids Helping Kids is a unique organization that evolved from a simple idea by a big-hearted 10 year old boy to raise $240 in order to save one Ghanaian child from the cycle of human trafficking into a fund-raising and leadership movement for global transformation.

Kids Helping Kids Leadership Academy…

Besides fund-raising for children in need locally and globally, Kids Helping Kids focuses on developing core leadership skills that not only raises their self-esteem but teaches them how to recognize behaviors that strengthen it.

Statistics show that early sexual activity, obesity, memory loss, violence, suicide and eating disorders are a direct result from low self-esteem.

Defined simply, self-esteem is the sense of being lovable and capable. When these two qualities are in sync, a child has high self-esteem. Children need first to know that they are loved and accepted for who they are. Then, with this as a basis, their natural impulse is to take that love and learn to contribute it to the world in constructive ways. It’s not hard to see that self-esteem is the best gift you can give your children.

How self-esteem is crucial to a child’s life….

• It sets the stage for one’s entire life.

• Self-esteem is built, it doesn’t come naturally

• Having good self-esteem correlates with success later in life – good grades and confidence can allow a teen to start out with scholarships and other opportunities.

• Helps teens deal with emotional stress

• Important in making good choices

Statistics on self-esteem in kids…

• 70% of girls ages 15-17 aren’t even bothering to participate in normal every day activities due to a lack of self-worth

• Obesity is the leading cause of low self esteem

• Today’s beauty ideals create appearance anxiety for 86.9% of all teenage-aged girls.

• *92% of the young women in the USA want to change some aspect of their physical appearance

Kids Helping Kids believes leadership is the foundation to strengthen self-esteem through social, emotional and educational curriculum. We focus on discovering and developing core principals to create the self-confident child by teaching integrity, honesty, self-esteem, communication, time management, conflict resolution and giving back, to name a few.

Integrity has become the backbone not only for our leadership academy but for every class and fundraiser we have. Our main focus of integrity is “doing the right thing even when no one is watching” teaching them three key elements that they can apply to their everyday thoughts and actions.

1. Integrity is a victory, not a gift.

2. A charismatic personality may draw people, but only integrity will keep them.

3. Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

These components are introduced by explaining that integrity is like a muscle, it’s there to do an important job but it has to be used on a daily basis in order for it to grow. The more they think about and use integrity, the more developed and natural it becomes which then becomes a part of who they are.

We teach them about what leaving their “Legacy” means. This provokes thought about what they want to be known for, which translates into how people perceive you. This element is particularly important for our jr. high group whose every waking thought is about fitting in, from what they say, to what they wear and who they are associated with. This, in turn affects every decision they make, good or bad. When they have a greater sense of self, their self-esteem gets stronger. We read a poem called “The Dash” by Linda Ellis that talks about the line between your birth date and death date on your tombstone, and what it represents. They are then asked do an exercise where they come up with the words that they would put on their own tombstone that they get to take home and put up in their room. This opens the door for them to start thinking about their legacy every day and what they really want to be known for.

More recently we taught “Cell Phone Etiquette”. This was eye-opening, even for the parents in the room. I had recently seen an episode of Oprah that inspired this class. It made my jaw drop and the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

They showed the story of a mom on her way home from a doctor’s appointment and as she pulled up near her house she saw lights flashing and fire trucks around. She saw a child laying on the ground and a child's mangled bike. She had no idea that it was her 9 year old daughter that had been struck by a 5,000 pound SUV. The driver of the SUV said she was distracted while talking on her phone when she hit the little girl head on, killing her.

Do you have a cell phone? Are you a texter? Do you do this while driving? Did you know that texting behind the wheel is like having FOUR drinks or shots of alcohol? Even if you are on a blue-tooth!

This was a SHOCK to me, I am the first to admit that I actually save phone calls I have to make for when I'm in the car so that I can make good use of my time. I have not texted or talked on my cell phone, not even once since I saw this. How many times have we all been messing with our phone, reading emails or texts or dialing a number when we catch ourselves swerving for a minute and have to pull back. That's all it takes, is a second and a life could end, my son's, my neighbors or my own.

6,000 people die every year caused by driver distraction from being on the phone or texting. The sad thing is, they are not teaching this in drivers ed. So it is our responsibility to make this change. What are we teaching our kids? If you think you are one of those that is a good driver and that this could never happen to you then you need to see this: See The Oprah Episode By Clicking HERE. It will definitely change the way you think about your cell phone and how you use it.

Technology is A Beautiful Thing…or is it

The rapid advancement of the technological world in the 21st century has been nothing short of astounding. From rotary phones and library cards to talking to someone from an airplane and roaming the world wide web, we literally have everything at our fingertips. I can be driving down the road, hear a song on the radio that I like and with a few taps on my iPhone I can have that song downloaded to my music library for just .99 cents. Amazing! It's 2010 and we are all but flying around town in our Jetson’s space crafts.

I can't help but wonder what long term effects this is having and will continue to have on our children. All this technology has made it easier and easier to disconnect from human interaction and socialization. The biggest reason teens get involved with the wrong group or turn to drugs and alcohol is because they feel a disconnect and a lack of belonging, which equals a low self-esteem. If we are always talking on the phone, texting, checking email and playing games then most of our conversations with our kids are over and around the devices we are using. These are half-conversations and our kids are getting jipped from having all of us. As well as you are when they are half-talking to you while texting a friend.

This has become an epidemic of large proportions. It comes up in many conversations I have had with people and I always hear, "Yeah, I do it and I need to stop." but they don't. In a world driven by success coupled with mini computers in everybody's hands, this is a recipe for disaster. The temptation to get one more thing marked off of their "to-do" list is too great for most so they miss that opportunity to be 100% present while their child is telling them about what happened at school that day.

I have a friend who is such a poor manager of their phone that I have stopped hanging out with them. We will set an appointment to spend time together over coffee to catch up and they spend the entire time answering calls and sending emails/texts during our appointment together. That is not my idea of nurturing our friendship, in fact it makes me feel as though my time is not valued and neither is our friendship if they would rather be doing something else. The sad thing is, they see nothing wrong with what they are doing.

I believe we need to take control now before we have to start spending billions of dollars on the technology boomers and all the therapy they are going to need to fix the feelings of inadequacy because they were second to their mom's iPhone or dad's crackberry.

How do we do this? Set boundaries! For yourself and your kids. Agree not to use your phone while you drive and stick to it. Pull over if you need to make or take a call or text. Set times that you will accept phone calls and answer emails. Just because you receive one doesn't mean you need to answer it or read it right away. Don't bring your phone to the dinner table and turn it off when you are at a restaurant. If you are expecting an important call or email while you are meeting someone, tell the person about it and ask if they wouldn't mind if you take it.

It's really important to set these boundaries for your kids but you can't unless you walk the talk first. I personally feel like I only have my kids for a few more years so their time left with us is valuable to me. As it is I have to compete with the PS3 player. We play a lot of card and board games in our house. Sure they may not always be excited to play at first but that's our sacred family time with no interruptions and in the end we always have a great time.

Little Eyes…

There are little eyes upon you

and they're watching night and day.

There are little ears that quickly

take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager

to do anything you do;

And a little boy who's dreaming

of the day he'll be like you.

You're the little angel's idol,

you're the wisest of the wise.

In his little mind about you

no suspicions ever rise.

He believes in you devoutly,

holds all you say and do;

He will say and do, in your way

when he's grown up just like you.

There's a wide-eyed little boy

who believes you're always right;

and his eyes are always opened,

and he watches day and night.

You are setting an example

every day in all you do;

For the little boy who's waiting

to grow up to be like you.

– Kimberly Sedlacek

Kids Helping Kids Fundraiser

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