One of the most important lessons that children can learn as they grow older is that they are not alone in the world, that they are surrounded by other people and animals that inhabit the same planet. It is vital for children in the UK, when developing a sense of self, to appreciate that they are in a fortunate position: they have access to education, clean water, safe housing and healthcare.
Of course adults can tell children that they are lucky to have this, that and the other – but a more effective method of impressing this upon them is to show them just what the rest of the world is like. This means exposing them, in a controlled and gentle way, to the sorts of hardships that others suffer. In the UK, the obvious way to do this is to show them that not everybody loves and cares for their pets or wild animals in the way that they should.
The RSPCA does much work to educate young people about how to care for their pets. Parents or care givers can get their children involved in charity events to support the work of the RSPCA and use that opportunity to educate them about the nature of that work.
Look in your local press or on the RSPCA’s website for forthcoming events in your local area, or set up your own fundraising event on their Choices website. The nice part about Choices is that you can choose a particular project, so you can explain to your children in simple terms exactly what will happen to the money they raise. It can be difficult to explain the concept of a charitable organization and how its funding works, so selecting a particular Project and seeing the difference that your charity event makes towards the target is a really good way to make it clear how the child is helping. They will feel empowered and can explain to others what they have done and why.
An example of a charity event that you could organize might be a sponsored toddle/walk/trike/bike. Get together a few mums or perhaps liaise with your child’s school or nursery about getting children together at a local park or perhaps on the school playing fields for a morning or afternoon of walking or riding. Set a route – perhaps around the perimeter of the field or around a particular path in the park – with adults sat at strategic points to mark off how many times a child has gone around the lap. Smaller children would need to be accompanied by their parents or adult helpers and refreshments should be made available at regular intervals. Careful organization would be needed to ensure that the children were properly supervised (a ratio of one adult to three or four children would be appropriate).
Each child would need to ask people to sponsor them a set amount or a smaller amount per lap. The RSPCA Choices site has sponsor forms, posters and other promotional material that you can download and print or order online: your child can also create a fundraising webpage to promote their project and event. Then have fun and enjoy the rewards of helping vulnerable animals.