Earlier this year, the My Super Powers! Foundation organized a food drive during which we filled over 100 bags of groceries. We donated the food to 4 local organizations. This was a unique type of food drive. Before we distributed the brown paper bags to people throughout the community to fill with food, kids decorated the bags. On one side that wrote phrases that emphasized the problem of food insecurity and how it impacts kids. For example, “1 in 8 kids in Illinois faces hunger.” On the other side of the bags kids drew illustrations of food or other happy themes.
We all know that helping others is a nice thing to do for those in need. Helping others also benefits those who help. In fact, it is an integral part of social emotional learning that teaches kids skills that are a good predictor of success and satisfaction throughout life. The impact on kids of helping others is even stronger when there is an educational component in the process.
That is what “service-learning” is all about. Service-learning are experiences during which kids perform service projects that also include a project-based educational component and reflection. Research shows that students who participate in service-learning demonstrate significant gains in self-esteem, self-confidence, academic performance, social skills, and civic engagement.
With the food drive, the act of writing information about food insecurity on the bags provided the educational component. By writing the information the bags, kids learned facts about how lack of food impacts kids and provides an opportunity for them to reflect. In some instances, parents reported that the project prompted their kids to do research on the issue and learn even more.
Each of our service projects has a learning component. Typically, we will have a speaker who is an expert on the topic to explain in an age-appropriate manner facts about the problem the kids are helping to address. In some instances, there will also be an opportunity for the kids to journal about their serving experience. The amazing thing about this approach is that kids enjoy it. While they like the hands-on aspect of the projects, they also are interested in learning about the causes and the impact of their hard work.
Founder and Director