After Haiti earthquake, US kids launch their own aid efforts
US kids are launching fundraisers, holding bake sales, and emptying their own piggy banks to help those affected by the Haiti earthquake.
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“We’ve seen a lot of schools and youth organizations that are organizing event-driven fundraisers,” says Elle Russell, manager of community engagement for Save the Children. “We sent out an e-mail to schools that supported us during the tsunami and were overwhelmed with the response we got back from teachers.”
Often, say mental-health experts, disasters like the one in Haiti can have a powerful effect on children, particularly if they’re exposed to the numerous images on the news. They encourage parents to be careful about how much media exposure they allow their children to have. And they suggest that parents discuss the news with their kids, helping them to process it or filter it.
“Particularly in young children, they have a tough time differentiating between reality and fantasy,” notes Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and author of “The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.” They might see repeated images and think that earthquakes are continuing to occur, for instance.
But Dr. Borba, like Dr. Langtiw, says that one of the most effective ways to help children cope isn’t to tune the news out completely – especially since they’re likely to hear about it somehow – but rather to show them how they can help.
“The younger the child, the more concrete the action should be,” Borba says. “An actual lemonade stand, collect the money, put it in an envelope himself, address the envelope.” In addition to such activity helping children feel less powerless, notes Borba, “it’s a lifelong habit that you’re teaching.... They realize, ‘I may be little, but I really can make a difference.’ ”
• For stories, blogs, and updates on Haiti after the earthquake, go to the Monitor's Haiti topic page.
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