Kids Can Make A Difference® (KIDS), an educational program for middle- and high school students, focuses on the root causes of hunger and poverty, the people most affected, solutions, and how students can help. The major goal is to stimulate the students to take some definite follow-up actions as they begin to realize that one person can make a difference. When first developed, KIDS was originally targeted to students from middle-class and more affluent homes. We have since learned that KIDS provides an enormous benefit to young people living in less fortunate circumstances; for them, the realization that being poor is not their fault is a liberating notion.
In 2010 KIDS became a program of the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) the world’s largest non-profit global network that enables teachers and youth to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world. In 2011, iEARN launched the Finding Solutions hunger program in which participants research and discuss the root causes of hunger and poverty in the world and take meaningful actions to help create a more just and sustainable world. They will become informed and effective global citizens, convinced of their ability to make a difference in the world.
The KIDS program consists of three major components: (1) The innovative teacher guide, Finding Solutions to Hunger: Kids Can Make A Difference, (2) Idea Clearing House, and (3) the KIDS web site.
The teacher guide, Finding Solutions to Hunger: Kids Can Make A Difference, has been used in middle- and high-schools, after school programs, religious schools, distance learning programs, home schools, and local food banks. It features uplifting, engaging, interactive and challenging lessons on the causes of and solutions to domestic and international hunger. It examines contemporary development projects, the role of the media, famine vs. chronic hunger, the working poor, and more, as well as valuable ideas for how young people can make a difference in their communities and in the world around them. In the hands of a creative teacher, the guide is adaptable to a range of ages. The guide is available in a download version from the website in English.
Supporting classroom work is a KIDS Newsletter that highlights current hunger issues and student initiatives. The newsletter features articles written by students, teachers and others concerned with finding solutions to hunger and poverty. It is distributed to after school programs, religious schools and organizations, food banks/pantries, etc. The newsletter is published quarterly and sent to 10,000+ subscribers.
In 2014, we introduced a weekly publication, Idea Clearing House (ICH). This publication supports the work of the Finding Solutions to hunger, poverty & inequality Alliance. This Alliance brings together some of the foremost organizations involved in doing something about the scourge of hunger, poverty & inequality in our world. These organizations go beyond just reacting to natural disasters and are seeking ways to end hunger and poverty. All of them “think outside the box” and have formulated projects that will help you take constructive steps in becoming part of the solution. The members of the Alliance are Why Hunger, World Savvy, Food Tank, OXFAM iEARN/KIDS, RESULTS. And HEIFER. Past issues of ICH are available on the KIDS’ website.
Teachers will be able to guide their students to various groups that are dedicated to taking action rather than simply reacting. Students will learn through their participation in actions they choose that they as individuals can make a difference in their community and world.
KIDS was the recipient of the of the prestigious Josephine “Scout” Wollman Fuller Award presented by Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR). The Josephine “Scout” Wollman Fuller Award was initiated in 2008 by Psychologists for Social Responsibility and the parents and family of “Scout” to honor the memory and life of “Scout” who passed away in 2007 following her struggle with cancer. Scout was only eight years old when she passed away. The Award is given annually to an individual or organization involved with peace and social justice for children.
KIDS was featured in Teaching Tolerance Magazine (September 2007) article . The magazine reaches 600,000 educators and is published twice a year. The Kids program was highlighted as an example of how to turn food drives into vehicles for social change.
Students at the Caedmon School in New York City participated in a “Hunger Banquet.” According to Mauve D’Arcy, a student, “The Hunger Banquet was really powerful and helped my class to understand what it’s like to be really hungry.” Her teacher, Jane Darby said, “It’s easy to become numb to the problems of poverty. City kids are witnesses to hunger every day… this exercise helps them to realize the injustice of it, and also gets them motivated to take some action.”
Fifth and sixth grade students in Maine conducted a Hunger Fair to educate fellow students and teachers. One student remarked, “I thought the Hunger Fair was a great idea. It gave kids knowledge and that is important because kids are the future. If we influenced just one person, then we did our job.” Another student remarked, “I thought the people weren’t going to believe the facts I told them about hunger. They would stand there and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that!'”
I want to tell you how much KIDS has meant to me over these past few years. Your work has given me a direction that I would never have had. There is so much “out there” in cyber space about global education, so much to read and attempt to implement, but KIDS and iEARN remain the best of the best, as far as being a teacher goes. Just this week I modified one of the lessons in the KIDS teacher guide, Finding Solutions to Hunger: Kids Can Make A Difference, in order to focus only on breakfast cereals, the nutritional content of different brands, the world-wide locations of the plantations supplying the sugar to Kellogg’s and Post, and the ways in which advertisements deceive buyers. The lessons in the guide continue to be the rock on which I lean when I’m uncertain; it would not exist if not for your efforts so many years ago.