Throughout December, we’ll be cheering on a number of schools as they take part in our annual Simon on the Streets Elf Run. Far more than just a festive sponsored run, our Elf Run is a great way to help children understand the issue of homelessness, and is also a really fun way of engaging them in community fundraising.
It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s one of our favourite events of the year, and we’re always inspired by the positive attitudes and enthusiasm of the children who take part. Here we’re taking a look at the reasons why we should be teaching children about the work that charities do, and the difference they can help to make.
Small actions can make a big difference
Just like adults, children are very important members of our society. Working together with a charity provides a valuable opportunity to show children that they matter, and that they have the power to make a difference, no matter how big or small. The fact is that children often have the most fearless ideas - their imagination knows no bounds! Tapping into that creativity at an early age can only help to build empathy for those who need our collective support, and help children to think beyond themselves as they grow.
If you’re a parent, or you work in education, it’s always worth asking children and young people about their fundraising ideas (you can always adapt the most ambitious ones).
Teaches the value of money
When you can equate a theoretical sum of money into something tangible, this can really help a child’s understanding - especially around the issue of homelessness. Discussing the concept of sponsorship and donations provides an insight into what having money means, and children can see, when everything is added up, what a huge difference they can make when they work together. This can make for some pretty useful maths practice too!
An added bonus of children working with a charity is that it helps them to be reflective, and appreciative for the things they have. It’s important for all of us to understand that not everyone is quite as lucky as we are to have a roof over our heads.
Discover what they care about
Working with a range of charities and organisations allows children to explore the things they care about, and start to establish their own personal values. For some it might be animals and the environment, for others, it might be homelessness, or a particular health condition.
Children are much more likely to get involved with charity projects if they have context, and believe in and have a passion for what they’re doing. There’s nothing stopping you from choosing a different charity each year/term, so that everyone can explore what matters to them.
Connects them with their community
Getting involved with local charities and organisations starts to give children an insight into life beyond their home and school. They can start to get connected with others in the community, making their world that little bit wider.
As they grow older, they may be wish to contribute by volunteering, where they can meet new people, learn new skills and build new relationships.
Teaches empathy and compassion
Above all else, charity work teaches children and students valuable lessons about empathy and compassion outside their usual classroom setting - what it means to do something for someone else without expecting anything in return. And given that we’re talking about the next generation, that’s a pretty good thing to aim for.
If you’re a teacher, or you think your child’s school would like to take part in the sponsored Elf Run this December, make sure you contact our senior fundraiser, Andy Sharpe on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Let the Elf Run commence!