About Our School Programs
Kids Giving Back can assist your school’s service learning needs by matching your students with existing non profit community organisations
What is Service Learning?
… creating the next generation of generosity through school curriculum
Service Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflect to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities.
Young people participating in service learning programs will benefit in 4 significant ways:
1. Enhanced sense of belonging.
Sense of belonging is the extent to which an individual feels accepted, included and respected in their environment. Sense of belonging reflects acceptance, and this ultimately influences dimensions of an individual’s behaviour (Osterman, 2003). This feeling of connectivity is an important stage of moral reasoning, which can help a troubled adolescent begin making better decisions. Learning that all community members are interrelated to one other helps form a sense of obligation to other people and caring beyond one’s family (Lickona,1983).
Receiving help and helping others is a way to develop the interconnectivity that is needed to bind people together in community. It has been identified that adolescents with a high sense of belonging are more likely to be resilient through the belief that resources are available to them to overcome difficulties (Goodenow 1993).
2. Development of Cognitive Empathy.
Research suggests humans tend to feel greater empathy for an individual when they perceive the individual to be similar to them. They also find it easier to empathize with someone who is familiar ( Zahn-Waxler et al 1984; Smith 1988). When we hear the word empathy, we often focus on “emotional empathy.” But the challenge of just developing emotional empathy in young people is that it can make us want to withdraw from distressing situations. Our own emotions cause us to not make an accurate judgement on what a victim really needs. To be able to effectively support others, we must develop cognitive empathy. Cognitive empathy is the ability to take another person’s perspective and imagine what actions might make that person feel better. In brain scan studies, individuals who score high in cognitive empathy tend to experience less stress reactivity when they witness distress in others. And they are actually better at responding in helpful and co-operative ways (Ho et al 2014). Cognitive empathy is readily transferable for young people into everyday life and in the workplace via customer service, caregiving roles and management of stressful situations and conflict.
3. Support for physical and mental health of young people
A 2013 study randomly divided 100 students into a group of volunteers and a group of non-volunteers. At the beginning of the study the volunteers and non-volunteers had equal body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol levels. Afterward, those who had been assigned to volunteer once a week for two months ended up with lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and a lower average BMI. In addition, The Search Institute has reported that teens who volunteer, even an hour a week, are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or engage in harmful behaviours. The researchers suggested that improvements in mood and self-esteem explain their improved physical health, as psychological and physical factors have been linked in other studies. Depression and lack of self-esteem have both been linked with heart disease and other health conditions. This link may explain why volunteering can lead to both better mental health and physical health.
Adolescents are exposed to both opportunities that reinforce their healthy development, and to forces and low expectations that can undermine it. Youth surrounded by gratitude thrive. When young people work to improve their communities, they develop a meaningful sense of purpose. They receive positive protective messages from people besides their parents, such as “We are lucky to have you,” or “I appreciate you.” They absorb the critical message, “I expect good things from you.”
4. Development of Resilience and self-efficacy for improved mental health outcomes
Resilience is an important contributor to good mental health. The degree to which a person is resilient can be influenced and determined by protective factors (Fergus & Zimmerman, 2005). Protective factors are contributors to positive outcomes during adverse periods (Dumont & Provost, 1999). Three factors that may be considered as protective factors and predictors of resilience are social support, sense of belonging and self-efficacy. Rutter (1987) claimed that the enhancement of perceived self-efficacy serves as a protective factor in adolescent resilience. Perceived self-efficacy is a belief in one’s capabilities, it is a determinant of an individual’s choice of activities and how they will persist with dealing with stressful situations (Bandura, 1995). Based on these assumptions, individuals who have confidence in their ability to solve problems in different situations are described as having strong self-efficacy.
Why choose Kids Giving Back?
Our unique program pedagogy creates opportunity for meaningful, age appropriate sustained engagement.
Kids Giving Back programs are developed using the framework of social pedagogy . Social pedagogic practices can be described as a way of thinking and being, rather than just an approach or strategy that can be applied to a specific task (Petrie, 2007; Hämäläinen, 2012). In this regard social pedagogic practices are “not so much about what is done, but more about how something is done” (Eichsteller and Holthoff, 2011).
Social pedagogic practice is often described in terms of the bringing together of the Head, the Heart, and the Hands for the task of working with people.
This means our programs are designed to provide factual information on the topic (Head) and exercises that evoke empathy and draw on the experience and personality of the individual student (Heart). We then provide the opportunity to take meaningful practical action (Hands) to consolidate the learning from the previous two components (Cameron and Moss, 2011).
Our program offers a holistic approach to developing civic literacy and offers a transformational learning experience through expanded perception (cognitive), expanded value (affective) and active use of learned concepts (psycho-motor). The multi-dimensional nature of our programs provides a framework of authentic experience for deeper reflection, sense of belonging and body/sensory stimulation which acts as a catalyst for deep engagement with the subject.