Saturday, April 27, 2013

Walk-a-thons and empowerment

Friday was the Walk-a-thon at our school.  It is our last fundraiser of the year, and this is the first time we have tried one.  Except for a couple of little glitches, it seems to have gone well.  Hopefully, we raised the $7000 (less than $20/ student) that will make us flush for the year.  I, of course as the incoming PTA president, volunteered for an afternoon shift.  I volunteer most Fridays in the Kindergarten, and on Friday, I walked with them when they did their classroom walk. I went back in the evening to mark laps for the evening "family walk".  It made for a really long day, but there was a lesson to take away from it, too.

Some of the kids where really into walking to raise money for the school.  There was one kid who was promised $1 per lap, unless he did more than 18 laps. If the boy reached 19 laps, his uncle was going to pay double. So, he was out there making time to get his uncle's money.  Another girl, who is friend's with my older son, declared "Mom, I'm going to make you go broke!"- she did 22 laps. Her parents looked torn between pride and fear when she reached number 20.  Some kids just had a personal goal to beat.  My sons both managed to exceed their goals.

As we were announcing the last lap, I mentioned to another PTA board member that her son was really racking up some laps.  As we talked about how kids can be so different from their siblings and how glad we were that this seemed to be going well, she said, "You know, this is really empowering to the kids."  She's completely right, and it's something we take a little for granted when being responsible adults in charge of kids, they need to feel invested, involved, and incorporated into their school especially when we are running around trying to raise money  and advocate for them.  They are the reason we volunteer time, open our wallets, and do crazy things like accept the president's job, but we often leave them out of the decision making process and leave them out of fundraising.  We forget that they aren't just poster children for our cause; they are the cause.  They need a voice, and more importantly they, more than any of us, have a stake in what we do.

Empowering kids teaches them that they have a voice.  It makes them advocates for themselves later in life, and it reinforces their role and ownership of their community. So, next time a little kid asks you to sponsor them for a walk-a-thon or other such event, remember that you are helping them learn community, learn advocacy, and learn to make and reach goals.

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