Ways of Getting Children Involved in Giving Back to The Society

Involving children from within the community, especially those from limited-resource families, has been a primary goal of the Restoration Community Gardens sustainable agriculture project. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo)

Getting the children involved in activities that allow them to pay back to the community. Giving back is not just for the community, it is also good for the personality building. The activities that allow the children to give back to the community and in return develop a sense of responsibility, creative thinking, and compassion and leadership qualities. It is a great way of developing healthy and compassionate minds.

Here are some useful tips for teaching the kids the importance and value of giving back to the community.

Understanding the concept:

When you are involving the children in charity activities you should make sure that you are able to get the idea of helping. They should understand that giving back does not mean that you give away things that you do not need anymore. They should also understand that helping is not just limited to donating money. Young kids mostly do what they are told to do by their parents but if you really want to instill the idea of helping the community then you need to make sure that they understand the importance. You can explain the ways in which the giving back is helping other people and the effect it has on numerous lives. Once they know the effect of their actions their interest will increase.

Do not wait for children to grow up:

Empathy and compassion are concepts that the kids are able to understand and learn from a very young age. You can encourage them to nurture these feelings just by sharing their things with other kids. No age is too young for learning to share. It will encourage them to participate in charity work and volunteer. They will not consider it as something they need to do but as something that they should do. Introducing them to charity work such as painting posters or baking sales will help in increasing their interest.

Making it a part of the routine:

You should not wait to give back. With your actions, you need to show the kids that you do not need to wait for large sums of extra money so you can pay back because it is not the only way of helping. You can inspire your kids by making the charity a part of everyday activities. You can do little acts of kindness like buying an extra bag of food while grocery shopping and giving to someone who needs it. It will set the example for the children that you can help other people with small acts of kindness on daily basis.

You should teach the kids that you do not need to be a part of a large organization in order to give back to the community. The important thing is to have the desire to help others and it will help in paving a path to giving back to the community. Random acts of kindness even like helping someone cross the street is an excellent way of instilling goodwill in people.

Consider the aptitude of the children:

If you want to make sure that the children are interested in doing the charity work then you need to make sure that you take into consideration their interests. Everyone has an aptitude for certain activities so try to introduce young children to activities that they have an interest in. If the kids are interested in creative work then you should let them paint the posters. If they are interested in food then you can get them involved in bake sales. You can show them that they can help people and nurture their own interests as well.

Get the family involved:

You should try to indulge in charity activities that you can do as a family. It will not just allow you to give back to the community but will also be good for bringing the family closer. It will help in building a stronger bond between the parents and children. You can also discuss the results of a charity event and share what you have achieved as a result. It will give a sense of accomplishment to the kids and they will be encouraged to contribute more.

New Medicaid Guidance Improves Access to Health Care for Justice-Involved Americans Reentering their Communities

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On April 28, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) strengthened access to health care for individuals transitioning from incarceration back to their communities. New Medicaid guidance released today updates decades-old policy and clarifies that individuals who are currently on probation, parole or in home confinement are not considered inmates of a public institution. It also extends coverage to Medicaid-eligible individuals living in community halfway houses where they have freedom of movement, improving access to care for as many as 96,000 individuals in Medicaid expansion states over the course of the year.

Historically, the vast majority of justice-involved individuals have been uninsured, while experiencing disproportionately high rates of chronic conditions, infectious disease and behavioral health issues. Studies show that roughly half of incarcerated individuals struggle with mental health and substance abuse conditions. Access to the health benefits the Medicaid program covers can play a key role in improving the health of these individuals, and states that expand Medicaid coverage are able to better support the health needs of this population.

“As we celebrate National Re-Entry Week, it is important to understand the critical role access to health care plays in successful returns to the community for so many Americans trying to change their lives,” said Richard Frank, HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. “Today’s actions will immediately begin to give as many as 96,000 of American’s most vulnerable citizens access to needed health care through Medicaid, including mental health and substance use disorder treatment, reducing the risk they will be re-incarcerated or hurt.”

According to a report released by HHS, there are 2.2 million people currently incarcerated and 4.7 million people under probation or parole in the United States. Because over 95 percent of incarcerated individuals will eventually return to the community, their access to quality health care post-release is an important public health issue. Medicaid coverage connects individuals to the care they need once they are in the community and can help lower health care costs, hospitalizations and emergency department visits, as well as decrease mortality and recidivism for justice-involved individuals.

Through the Affordable Care Act, states have the opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to individuals, including single childless adults, with household incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Federal funds cover 100 percent of health care costs for the newly eligible population in 2016, scaling down to 90 percent in 2020 and beyond. Medicaid expansion is an important step states can take to address behavioral health needs, including serious mental illness and opioid and other substance use disorders. Nearly 2 million low-income uninsured people with a substance use disorder or a mental illness lived in states that had not yet expanded Medicaid in 2014.

The Obama Administration has taken major steps to make our criminal justice system fairer, more efficient, and more effective at reducing recidivism and helping formerly incarcerated individuals contribute to their communities.  To highlight this important work, the Justice Department has designated the week of April 24-30, 2016, as National Reentry Week.

For more information on the Medicaid clarification guidance, visit:

For the report on the importance of Medicaid coverage for criminal justice-involved individuals reentering their communities, visit:

Diversity and Decay: It’s Not What You’d Think

I have learnt so much working with Sue Davidoff and Allan Kaplan of the Proteus Initiative. I want to share an amazing insight about the nature of diversity itself (and when I say “nature” I mean both the phenomena of the physical world and the basic or inherent features of something).

One of the exercises I did with Allan and Sue was to observe plants that were growing and dying (or decaying). We were asked to observe them carefully and then sketch them. The latter action is not a forté of mine but observation doesn’t require much dexterity and I made a discovery that literally left me reeling for a moment.

The two pictures below demonstrate what I saw. Can you see it too?

Growing and decaying leaves

The first leaf is growing. It has order and structure. If it was on a tree it would have a certain uniformity with the other leaves. It would have a certain uniqueness, but amongst a common shape, colour and texture for that kind of leaf.

The second leaf is dying and decaying. It is random – chaotic even – in shape, colour and texture. If there were more of them each would be totally different. Do you see what this means? There is more diversity in the process of decaying than in growing.

I don’t know about you but I was gobsmacked. After spending twenty years understanding and helping others to understand diversity, I realised I needed to change my whole direction. In order to recognise and understand diversity (not create it, as it’s already around in abundance), something had to decay in individuals, organisations, communities and humanity, not grow.

The question was, what exactly needs to decay? Here’s what I think:

  1. Individuals: In individuals, what needs to decay is identity. In order to recognise your own and others’ diversity, you need to let go of your idea of who you are or who you think the other person is. This may include dropping labels, assumptions, values and beliefs. You may hold them dear, but they will lock you into an idea of who you are, or someone else is, that is constrained by them. I realised this clearly when I spoke to a meeting of Gender Bridge, a NZ community group established to provide support for transgendered people, their friends, families, and communities. In order to successfully understand and/or enter into a process of changing gender identity, you need to decay many things, including the values society places on static, binary notions of gender and your own idea of yourself as your biological or born gender.
  2. Organisations: Most organisations see strategic diversity management as a way to add fairness, variety, competence and productivity to their workforces, services and/or products. They write policies and procedures, do awareness training and even “diversity activities” like putting on ethnic lunches, learning cultural traditions or acknowledging lifestyle differences. All well and good but, in my experience, this attempt to “do” diversity is often inauthentic and usually fails. Why? Because they forget to decay organisational culture – ideas of what is efficient, professional, acceptable and usual. Without losing these old notions of what was important, diversity strategies are token. (Here’s a great quote from Tamarack & Vibrant Communities Associate Mark Cabaj: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It is so true in this context.)
  3. Communities: Where communities struggle with diversity, I believe, is in their need to hear or to speak with one voice. In short, communities need to decay agreement. Communities tend to need common language, behaviour and structures to create collective identity. Like leaves on a healthy tree they want to foster a certain shape, colour and texture. Unfortunately, diversity within community is about embracing and working with paradox, discomfort and uncertainty. It’s messy, frustrating and hard work.
  4. Humanity: Humanity – no pressure. I’m aware I’m at risk of totally destroying my credibility by positing one thing everyone needs to do without, in order to embrace diversity. But what the hell. I’ll put it out there. I think the thing that humanity needs to decay is the need for answers. Answers impede the exploration of diversity more than anything else in the world. Once we know (or think we know) the answer to who we are, or who someone else is, or how, or why or when, we stop asking questions. The Diversity Inquiry – or DIVINQ – process I designed a few years ago is based on that one simple premise – the need to inquire constantly about our personal and social dynamic.

There you go. Identity, organisational culture, agreement and the need for answers. Four very complex things we need to be prepared to let decay, in order to let diversity grow in abundance.

Not bad for a couple of leaves.

Here’s a video of me presenting these and other ideas at TEDxAuckland in 2012.

[youtube=”http://youtu.be/hNUgOhJiQZc”]

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