Today’s post comes from Rebecca Wofford at our philanthropic partners The Lunch Project and discusses the importance of not only nurturing our children beyond their physical development. Rebecca is a former lawyer and law professor, founder and Executive Director of The Lunch Project, giving kids the fuel to learn in Tanzania, East Africa and Charlotte, a blogger at www.thechickenmama.blogspot.com and mom of Sam and Cate.
As parents, we want the very best for our children. We want to teach them and help them become the very best people they can be. At different developmental stages, children have different needs.
When they are babies, we are concerned with our babies most basic developmental needs. Our pediatricians help meet our parental concerns through established developmental milestones. As long as our babies meet these milestones during each visit, we breathe a huge sigh of relief. As our babies grow, the visits to the pediatrician become less frequent and the milestones grow with them but perhaps not in a holistic way. My son and daughter are 10 and 9 and I know, from their pediatric visits, that they continue to meet their height and weight milestones. However, I have wondered if they are meeting emotional milestones.
Although physical development should be measured and we should help our children meet these developmental goals through nutrition, physical activity, etc. we should also strive to meet their emotional needs and development. Providing love and safety meets the most basic emotional needs but as children grow their emotional needs grow with them. Our goal is for children to develop empathy. Kids as toddlers begin to develop empathy through basic concepts of sharing with others. This concern for and connection to another child should provide a positive experience.
I believe, as parents, we should continue to provide positive experiences for our children to connect and empathize with other children and that this will empower them to become good global citizens. This is the primary goal of The Lunch Project’s Summer of Service. Summer of Service introduces children to the lives of kids in Tanzania, East Africa, and specifically their goal of receiving an education. Kids also learn that this first generation of kids going to public primary school did not have lunch at school before The Lunch Project helped their community develop a lunch program. They learn that they have a lot in common with these kids but that they also face different life circumstances. Kids here empathize with kids who have struggled to learn on an empty belly. All kids understand the need to have food at school so you can learn.
How do kids view the Summer of Service? As a fun challenge that helps other kids. We challenge kids to create a family project that will raise $85 to feed 900 kids a hot lunch at school. Kids do what they love — whether it is baking cookies and having a cookie and lemonade stand to playing basketball or soccer with friends in a tournament — and ask for a donation from their friends or for customers to pay for their product. They learn the basic concepts of being a social entrepreneur. Because of the generosity of our sponsors, including Fundanoodle, our SOS families have been provided “I am The Lunch Project” t-shirts and car magnets, so they are also raising awareness about the global work we are doing as a community and, most importantly . . . with our kids. Because our SOS kids connect and empathize with kids across the globe, SOS kids rise to the challenge and with their accomplishment comes empowerment. These kids are changing the world and have met an emotional milestone of empathy in action along the way.
To learn more about The Lunch Project or ways you can get involved visit them at www.thelunchproject.org.