Kids changing the world… one act at a time.
More and more, kids are wanting to have a positive impact in the world. They are taking action and mobilizing other kids to address problems from infant mortality in developing nations to neighbourhood concerns. They are donating to charities, volunteering to help others and even engaging in social entrepreneurship. They are taking the passion they feel about a cause and undertaking a business-like activity that earns money (or provides other resources) to support that cause.
Alex Scott, for example, was four years old and battling cancer when she started a lemonade stand to raise money for cancer research. After a year, she had raised $2,000. By the time she was eight, she had raised $1 million through the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Many kids like Alex are motivated to pursue a social entrepreneurial activity because they’ve been touched by something serious or significant and are moved to take action. They have had a personal experience with the problem. More often than not, though, these children would be hard pressed to pursue social entrepreneurship without the support and guidance of an adult.
Almost all kids would like to be more involved, only about half are actually participating in giving back to their community. There is much less opportunity for the younger kids to fulfill this need and they simply can’t take this initiative on their own. The study by Just Kid Inc on Kids as a force for social change, revealed that about 9 out of 10 kids believe that it is extremely, very or somewhat important to help others or give back to their community. Many have displayed the important role of service in their lives over the past year, through their service activities. It seems that the involvement in parents, had an impact on the child and if a parent was involved in community service, their children would follow suit.
Social Entrepreneurial Initiatives for Kids
While teaching children to run businesses on their own or learn to create a spreadsheet is not appropriate, we could impart the basic concepts of social entrepreneurship to kids at an early age. It will lay the foundation for participating on a bigger scale as they grow older.
Many Social Entrepreneurial organisations such as Ashoka, EchoingGreen, and the Skoll Foundation are inspiring and supporting teens and young adults to be social entrepreneurs. Thanks to these organisations and others, the field of social entrepreneurship has expanded significantly. However, little attention is being given to teaching our nation’s youngest entrepreneurial talent — our future problem solvers.
YesKidzCan is an organisation that is empowering kids to engage in Social Entrepreneurship. They recently launched the Social KidPreneuerz Awards Program. The goal of the program is to make $100 awards to kids in grades 3 through 5 and inspire them to undertake an entrepreneurial activity that benefits society. Each award brings with it a substantial feeling of responsibility and ownership and requires a commitment to complete the task. Their intention is to plant the seeds of social entrepreneurship among younger generations, instilling in them a belief that they can shape their world. They are also developing learning tools for parents, teachers, and community/faith leaders to use with students, either independently or in conjunction with the award application process.
Not every child is suited to be a social entrepreneur but they do have the natural curiosity, imagination, drive, and ability to come up with innovative ways to change the world for the better. By giving them opportunities to get involved and supporting them, we are teaching them they have what it takes to “be the change.” David Bornstein, a well-known expert on social entrepreneurs, , puts it this way: Once an individual has experienced the power of social entrepreneurship, he or she will “never go back to being a passive actor in society.”
When kids start from a young age, they are more likely to lead and create positive change throughout their lives. The result…more social entrepreneurs bringing change…now that has to be a good thing!!