Connecting Children to Community Service

Thursday, February 28th was no ordinary day at Youth Rising Kitende! This day brought a lot of love, happiness, laughter, and fun. The kids at the center hosted fellow kids from Galaxy International School Lubowa. Youth Rising Kitende is known for our Literacy for Life Program, which morphed out of the Early Childhood Development program that was in operation for five years before Youth Rising acquired this center.  

Literacy for Life program (L4L), an early childhood development program focused on children and youth ages 1 – 15.  The program’s main objective is to create a safe learning space for children and youth in the communities we serve to raise their level of literacy and contribute to better learning outcomes beyond what is taught in class.

 

Kids from YR Kitende and Galaxy International School get ready to mix and mingle. 

 

At Youth Rising Kitende, the gates are open every morning for parents who are financially not able to take children ages 1 -8 to school. Children get to play, learn and interact with others instead of staying home. In the afternoons, gates again open for kids 8 – 15 years, both in school and out-of-school. They come to the center to interact, play, revise, do their homework, among other things.

On top of offering a space for kids who are at a disadvantage to play and learn, we continually look out for opportunities that can help kids learn more about themselves, their surroundings and the world. We want to make sure that children in our community grow up healthy and successful.

Galaxy International School believes in the importance of nurturing children holistically. They too want children to be grateful for what they have been given and have compassion for those who are in need. Teaching children, the spirit of giving, showing them the importance of thinking of others, and modeling kindness are important ways to help children grow into productive and loving members of our world.

It is this like-mindedness that led us to strike a partnership to have kids at Galaxy International School participate in a service learning activity with kids at Youth Rising Kitende. We hosted 65 students between 4-8 years in Reception and Year 3 classes to engage in community service. The activity was a learning strategy that integrates instruction and reflection to enrich students’ learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen our beloved community. This activity connected kids from Galaxy International School to fellow kids who are not able to go to the same school they go to. This encouraged them to reflect on their willingness to express compassion, care, and empathy.

All the children that visited our center brought along a donation for their new pals learning that giving doesn’t require that you travel to a special destination but they can begin from home, in their community.

 

    Meal sharing moment

 

When we consider all the skills our kids will need to succeed in the future, what comes to mind? Perhaps creativity, tech skills, or an excellent understanding of math might be at the top of many parents’ lists. Social-emotional skills like empathy, compassion, or the ability to understand another person’s viewpoint may not be the ones we thought of right away, but deep down we know they matter.

Service learning gives children an authentic educational experience while teaching empathy. Through service learning, students get a chance to contribute to their communities and discover whether they are 4, 7 or 15, they can make a difference.  Children grow emotionally, intellectually, and physically through both their relationships and through their community. For children, community involvement and engagement produce long-term benefits in their lives. It gives them a sense of belonging and is crucial to the building of their identity. The younger the child is when the discussion about giving begins, the more it becomes a matter of practice and habit that continues into adulthood.

 

      Nurturing care, love, and support

We are glad that as we sang songs, played with a million toys, ate and drunk soda we opened a perspective to the children about what changes they would like to see in the world. They learned, just by small acts of giving and playing with a new friend, how to become a change maker, what it means to be a good person and citizen as well as learning from and teaching others how to collaborate and make a difference. They learned about the multiplier effect of small acts and the large impact that they can have on their communities. We would like to thank the administration at Galaxy International School for partnering with us on this activity, the parents of the children who visited us with so many gifts to support our early childhood development program at our center in Kitende. We are grateful.