In her 2010 speech at the TED conference, local-yet world-renowned 12-year-old child prodigy and published author, Adora Svitak, emphasizes the subject of being “childish.” More often, adults stigmatize childlike characteristics as immature attributes that have no place in the adult realm. She argues several controversial yet valid points for how much adults can learn from their younger counterparts. The Rescue Mission values this unconventional thinking in its staff and volunteers. We especially try to foster an environment that teaches our homeless children not to lose this divergent thinking as they become older and their responsibilities become more demanding. Comprised are a few ways adults can benefit by drawing from their youthful attributes, and why they should never under estimate the power that youthful intellect, creativity, and boundless thinking brings to the table.
- Children are a work in progress. At some point many adults value education less and focus more on what is expected to live up to the stress of bills, work, and their daily responsibilities. It’s important to never stop learning and continue working to make self-progress. As one of the RM adult clients put it, “as long as you’re living, there’s always room to improve.”
- Creative thinking . . . Think outside the box. Sometimes unconventional thinking, free from the confines of adult limitations is just what a person needs to solve complex adult problems.
- Being too serious can sometimes be seriously frustrating. Adults sometimes put too much pressure on themselves to live up to “expectations.” If we promote a positive work atmosphere that encourages people to do their best, then their best is likely what they will give you. Positive communication that brings interesting and playful new ideas leads to a greater shared passion for accomplishing complicated goals, and a greater interest in helping others to succeed as well.
There is an array of reasons adults and children can benefit by learning from each other. The Recue Mission Youth Program works to ensure that the adult/child relationship is give and take, and that each homeless child that enters our program is given an opportunity to contribute his or her ideas. Allowing children to involve their adolescent ideas to adult problems will better prepare them for adult situations and will promote an atmosphere that teaches them to be innovative thinkers.
If you're interested in becoming a part of this exciting educational experience, consider making a small donation or fill out an application to volunteer with our youth program today!
Preventing homelessness requires more than shelter, a hot meal, and a few extra dollars for a person to get by. Many adults that become homeless do so because they are lacking the love, support, and discipline needed to approach self-sufficiency with positive self-confidence. By fostering an atmosphere that promotes education and self worth, children will be hard-wired with the key components to avoid many of the circumstances that lead to homelessness in adulthood. Below is part 1 of a 2 part blog outlining a few things we can do as a community to prevent homelessness from reoccurring as homeless children approach adulthood.
- Community support—Did you ever hear the old cliché, “it takes the village to raise the child”? Well, this seemingly inane philosophy rings true in many ways. Most non-profits specializing in homelessness agree that it takes more than offering a warm meal and a soft pillow to prevent homelessness from reoccurring. With community support in areas like tutoring, life skills, and spiritual guidance, children are fostered into a safe secure environment that builds character and promotes optimism that teaches them to evolve into self-sufficiency.
- Solidarity—By treating children as our equals, they will not become fixed on the stressful reality that they are homeless. They will feel just as important and appreciated as any other child—as they should be—which will promote a healthy atmosphere and a positive outlook about how they approach goals.
- Positive Self-Esteem—By supporting our children with love, education, and spiritual guidance, they will regain their self-esteems and not focus too much on their circumstances. Building confidence gives them the tools to focus on their educational goals, which will eventually empower them to tackle more complex goals like higher education and successful careers.
- Let Children be Children---Childhood is a very important time for a person’s cognitive development. By not putting too many ‘adult’ expectations on them and letting them learn, play, and make mistakes as children should, they will not feel robbed of the vital components needed to approach adulthood successfully. They will make more wise decisions by not feeling the need to fulfill juvenile regrets later on in life. Even the children that do miss out on a childhood and eventually live successful lives will feel as though they missed out on important part of their youth. Everyone appreciates their fond childhood memories like camping, slumber parties, and after school playtime with friends. These are important experiences no child should miss out on.
- Family Support—There is no substitute for a parent’s love. Anyone can tell a child that he or she did a great job on a finger painting, but it does not carry the same emotional significance as it does if mom or dad says the same thing. Children carry deep emotional attachments to their parents and look to them for love, emotional support, and encouragement. Mom and Dad are the key proprietors of confidence building in their children, so their presence is imperative for them to grow up with good confidence and a positive outlook about their futures.
Everyone knows how important nutrition is for improving overall health and physical wellness. But many people may not consider how much diet affects a person’s cognitive function. After reading an interesting article about child nutrition and performance in school in the National Agricultural Library, it dawned on me that if diet has a significant impact on intellectual development, then it most certainly affects child behavior.
Do you ever notice that when a child comes off a sugar-high he or she might become moody, cantankerous, or difficult to deal with? Several controlled studies prove that by giving children a healthy diet rich in organic sugars and nutrients like fruits and vegetables, they are not only improving their intellectual development, but also tend to be more balanced emotionally. A healthy child is more proactive about accomplishing personal obstacles and educational goals without being overwhelmed by aggressive energy or the crash-and-burn effect that sugar and caffeine are indicative for.
If parents improve their own diets, then their children will more than likely emulate the behavior, which leads to a healthier and happier family atmosphere and better success in school. Candy and sugary snacks are a fun occasional break from the usual healthy diet we all should be eating, but it’s not necessarily good in large quantities. Next time you find yourself or your children reaching for that candy bar a little too often, keep in mind that it is doing a lot more than just satisfying a sweet tooth. By considering healthier alternatives and taking good supplements, you are likely to notice a big improvement in the way you and your children feel and how you think.
Observing Wednesday’s Super Club activity during the youth program at the Adams Family Campus provoked me to evaluate the vitality teamwork plays in establishing quality human relationships and trust. The success of the “airplane” game the children played was highly contingent on how the children worked cohesively in an unfamiliar environment. During the game, several group members stood around the room posing as trees, while a single child navigated the area as an airplane with his eyes closed, but he relied on the direction of another child to ensure that he did not come in contact with the other children.
This seemingly frivolous activity resonates on a macro scale, because it represents the importance teamwork plays in good communication and trust—even at the adult level. By promoting team-oriented play, the children are not only establishing a greater appreciation for each other on a mutual level, they are also learning to communicate in interesting new ways that yield greater success. Children learn to trust themselves to test their own intellectual capacities, as well as trust their team members to achieve success as part of a collaborative effort. Building quality relationships based on good communication and trust not only leads to success in child’s play; it’s also a good foundation for adults to flourish professionally and in their personal interactions.
Children’s levels of confidence set the tone for how they approach educational goals. While it’s easy to overlook small details like rewarding a child for doing well on a homework assignment or learning to tie a shoe, these seemingly insignificant intricacies lay the ground work that teaches them to be motivational thinkers and to initiate any task with a positive mind set. By teaching our young to be optimistic learners, they are less likely to focus on the negative side of a situation and will explore new and innovative ways to overcome obstacles. The Rescue Mission Youth Program encourages our parents and volunteers to emphasize activities that redirect children’s energy in positive ways that help build the self-confidence that is pivotal for success in life. As part of our program we offer intellectually stimulating activities like our Young Chefs Cooking Program, hands on tutoring, and outdoor kinesthetic learning. Our activities are equally engaging for the children as they are to volunteers. Children with good self-esteem and positive role models have pride in themselves and their environment, and are more likely to be optimistic about taking on new challenges as they continue to grow. Engaging in fun educational activities like board games, reading, and art are a great way for children to learn, build healthy relationships, and promote self-confidence.