Helping kids live their dream, and wear their passion!
I have been having prolonged brainstorming sessions with myself around the idea of World4Children lately! 😉 Some of the things that happened to me in the past month or so (Schooling the World, TEDxUBC) have largely influenced many of those thoughts. I have also been getting inspiration from some of the amazing kids and organizations supporting youth I started connecting with using social media.
It was not all happening during those one-to-one meetings with myself, though. I have engaged with various people both online and offline, and they gave me different perspectives on topics concerning kids, in particular education. I even got further inspiration through my favorite ideas sharing platform, TED — which is to be blamed for inspiring me originally to step out of my comfort zone and start acting on my dreams. 😉
Importantly, I have faced many questions I have been struggling to answer ever since: “What is going on with World4Children? How do you plan to implement the vision? It is a great idea, but what kind of value can World4Children bring to kids? Or adults interacting with them? How is World4Children different from the many organizations, charities and similar groups already supporting kids?”
I now think I have answers — or at least first drafts. 😉 Let me start from the bottom up!
How is World4Children different from the many organizations, charities and similar groups already supporting kids?
I am awed with the number of charities and other supporting organizations focusing on helping kids around the world get out of poverty, deal with diseases, get quality education, etc. I have been really pleased to interact with Save the Children, Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, The Art of Elysium, Action Against Hunger, Kids Caring 4 Kids, Bob Emig Foundation, and many others! These organizations are very inspiring and I am very grateful for their support so far!!
While I hope to give my contribution to the causes these organizations are so passionately working for, World4Children’s vision is to inspire kids and adults to engage with each other and work on useful and meaningful projects. My hope is that this work will often help other organizations deliver support to kids in parts of the world where they need it the most!
On the other hand, to engage kids from such places, World4Children will surely depend on the success of these organizations to help kids get out of poverty and make it possible for them to engage with the rest of the world. I am certainly excited to partner with some of those organizations and can’t wait to see what kind of opportunities for kids such collaboration can bring!
Besides organizations focusing efforts to help kids in need, I have been very pleased to meet many organizations that are working to offer resources and support to help kids launch their dreams from young age — become entrepreneurs, get media attention, publish a book, etc. Many are also engaging with parents to help them raise successful kids.
I have been delighted by the support I got so far from many of them, including Amazing Kids!, Independent Youth, MyImpact, Fight the Silence, Raising CEO Kids, 31 Projects, Born Marvels, Teen Biz Coach, Hip-Hop Stock Market, and many others, including several TEDx organizations focusing on youth and individuals who are passionate about helping kids achieve their dreams!
Though they focus on different areas, all these groups have one thing in common — they’re trying to discover kids with dreams and talent and they then focus in helping such kids learn the necessary skills to be successful and open doors for them so they can start working on their dreams. I am personally amazed at the number of people who are passionately trying to help kids engage in the current world at young age and be successful at that!
The existence and the number of such people is what makes me excited about the potential of World4Children — World4Children is about bringing down walls that separate youth from the adult world, and to achieve this, lots of effort will be required from anyone who’s passionate about the future of the new generations! The effort of these organizations and groups is in some ways pioneering as it can inspire more adults to engage with kids. World4Children can focus in helping to motivate more of those kinds of interactions to happen and seek our or even build opportunities for such engagement!
It is a great idea, but what kind of value can World4Children bring to kids? Or adults interacting with them?
If there’s one thing I learned in the past couple of months since I started living my dream to help kids engage is that passion can do miracles, and most people have loads of it, just many are not wearing it! — to use the metaphor from the great manifesto that have been sent my way today (by @brainpicker on Twitter).
The goal for World4Children is to tap into the unleashed passion that both kids and adults carry in themselves, to build a community and a platform for kids and adults sharing common interest to work together on interesting projects or simply engage in discussion that can lead to solutions to problems or decisions impacting the future of the children and all of us!
To give you an example of some of the challenges I expect down the road, one big problem I have observed in making this reality is the arbitrariness in how we classify kids throughout the education system and otherwise. In almost all countries, the kids are universally grouped together by age and sometimes even by sex — as if the age and the possession or lack of certain genitals is a factor that pre-determines their academic abilities, social maturity, emotional intelligence, etc.
Examples of arbitrary age classifications and limitations abound even outside the education system — age-appropriate movies, age at which driver’s license can be obtained, drinking permit age, age at which criminal prosecution is possible, etc. etc. etc. A case in point that shows how arbitrary the choice of age as a category to describe one’s maturity for a certain area is the difference between the US states alone for the age at which criminal prosecution is possible — they range from 7 to 15!
Note that I am not suggesting age is not useful at all — as a first approximation for certain maturity level it may serve a purpose as a guidance, but other factors should be considered too and sometimes accepted as more important than age!
If used inconsiderately, age can backfire as it can be perceived as a limiting factor for certain kids to engage outside their age group. Instead of opening opportunities for kids with certain skills to engage with other kids or even adults with whom they may share common interest, the age classification works to isolate the kids — surely squashing their passion and potential for creative work, maybe even leading to various social problems!
We humans tend to put a sticker with a label on everything and unfortunately our kids are no exception! 😦 We need to change that and move off of the black & white world of narrowly limited dimensions inherent in many of the existing systems and rules. It is important to work towards a richer and dynamic environment that values differences and is interested in uncovering the potential in kids, based on their skills and passion, rather than silly stickers like age or gender!
Such environment should be offering opportunities to those kids to help them further develop those skills, instead of trying to force them to conform to unjustified, and limited in view, norms or value them based on arbitrary choice of tasks that are supposedly representing success according to those norms!
In response to the arbitrary definition of success being used by the education system, which seems to be failing many kids who are promised it is their ticket out of poverty, Carol Black — the director of Schooling the World, a fascinating film raising important questions about the damage the Western-type of education is doing to indigenous sustainable cultures around the world — recently said to me that we have “to respect the right of children and families to exit this system if it is not serving them. Leaving school may be a very intelligent choice for people who can see that they are being funneled into the ‘failure’ category. Don’t see them as truant, don’t see their parents as neglectful; if they can find gainful employment, don’t call it ‘child labor’ unless the conditions of work are abusive. Children used to work on farms and in family businesses in the pre-industrial West, and it was not necessarily an abusive situation.”
Dan Pontefract — a passionate leader in the learning and collaboration space and one of the speakers at TEDxUBC, a TEDx conference focused on education I volunteered to help with its organization recently — in his presentation on what is wrong with the current education system, used “wall” as a metaphor and asked the audience to help him “tear down this wall!” This is exactly how I feel about the arbitrary classifications we impose on our kids — they’re walls that serve no useful purpose to anyone, on the contrary, they help alienate kids and fortify the silos in which they grow their own culture and learn to work around instead of within the system!
The vision behind World4Children is to bring down any walls preventing kids — and adults too! — from engaging in meaningful interactions based on skill and passion!
What is going on with World4Children? How do you plan to implement the vision?
First, let me be clear, World4Children may never be an organization with defined action plans, well defined agendas, etc. It surely is the case today! 😉
My vision for World4Children is to be (and remain!) first and foremost an idea! An idea that can inspire! An idea of a world in which passion, creativity, critical thinking and other 21st century skills will be valued above everything else and fostered in our kids since young age! An idea of a society teaching their kids social intelligence, compassion, and embracing diversity. An idea that is worth spreading!!
My drive for World4Children is to build a community to support the idea behind it! It is to bring kids and adults in one place and provide opportunities and resources to help them engage! It is to show the results of such interactions and inspire more people to embrace the idea and join the community!
My hope for World4Children is to develop a platform that will enable any kid anywhere in the world engage with any other kid or adult from a different part of the world! A platform that can be used by anyone to partner with others based on shared passion! A platform to let such partnerships shape the future of our children!
To achieve this, I think it is necessary for World4Children to remain in a somewhat dreamy state — a state where everything is possible and everyone can contribute new ideas!
Of course, to achieve the vision, drive and hope, practical steps are required too 😉 My plans involve further engagements in social media beyond Twitter, a dedicated site with resources and information departing from my personal blog, a non-profit registration, a TEDx conference, etc. etc. etc.
To do all this, I will need your support! If you like the idea and the vision, please think of the ways you can help? Even the smallest contribution counts. To start with, you can join the Twitter follower list for @World4Children or subscribe to this blog. You can also help spread the idea by sharing it with your network. Or if you would like to actively participate in shaping the vision, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for reading this post! You’ve already shown your support in doing so and I am really grateful for your time! I hope I have inspired you to live your dream, and wear your passion!!!
Are you dreaming too?
I am curious about everything and this blog is my way to ponder the meaning of the hard questions of life, mind, culture, future...
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