Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

Teaching Kids to Serve: Towards a vision of self as world changer


Red Thread Movement

Red Thread Movement (Photo credit: marcia.furman)


This past week-end, some friends and I who work with a group of 6th grade girls hosted a sleepover for them. In the midst of swimming, a service project, and some games to get to know each other better, I was struck by the ways that these girls were reaching out to build community together. They wanted to share their stories with each other, and were eager to answer personal questions to allow the others to see who they really are.


This type of community building is so important for adolescents. It provides them with a way of understanding their place in the world, and with peers with whom they can discuss their own values. When it comes to sexualized media and marketing, strong communities are essential in providing a counterbalance to the shallow messages that adolescents receive about what makes them valuable.


Whereas sexualized messages promote the idea that a female’s value is primarily connected to her physical attractiveness, strong and positive communities help adolescents focus on other areas. Performing arts, sports, scouts, religious groups, all of these provide kids with a different way of seeing their value.


Service oriented groups provide opportunities for one of the most beautiful ways of seeing children grow in their understanding of how they can make a difference in the world. The service project that we did with our 6th graders was for the Red Thread Movement. The Red Thread Movement focuses on efforts to end sex trafficking, especially in Nepal. As our girls were working on the project, they began to talk about the young girls, many who are near their age, who have been caught in the web of human trafficking. One girl said, “And to think, I complain about not liking my math class!” Of course, you want to keep your conversation developmentally appropriate. In this case, we talked about slavery in general, rather than focusing on sexual slavery.


Providing adolescents with ways to serve and make a difference in the world not only allows them to see themselves as powerful, but it also helps them learn to view their own lives through a more realistic lens. They begin to see themselves as world changers, and to look for ways to help others, and that’s what changing the world is all about.


One comment on “Teaching Kids to Serve: Towards a vision of self as world changer

  1. naomi@thekidscoach.org.uk
    September 14, 2012

    Yes and they are alsop being led by leaders to show them what they can do and that is powerful in itself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker on WordPress.com

Twitter Updates

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,508 other followers


%d bloggers like this: