I have the privilege and responsibility of teaching English at a local high school. My students are anywhere from 16 to 18 with personalities that run the gamut from standup comedian to super-secret spy child. (You know the one; never says a word but watches the world with the close attention of a research scientist.) Some are always laughing. Others speak with a gravity and intelligence worthy of a Nobel prize winner. Their interests span the stratosphere. I have future scientists, rock stars, doctors, police officers and mechanics in my classes, along with a writer or two and more than a few artists.
What often surprises me most is how aware my kids are about the world they live in. Bring up the presidential election and each one has an opinion. And the passion! They are, mostly, friends. But voice a political view and they are ready to argue into breathless silence anyone who opposes them. So, when Kimberly asked me to do a guest post about how kids view hunger, it sparked my own curiosity.
I found out that not only are they aware of the problem of hunger, it concerns them. The majority, (77% of those surveyed) believe hunger is an issue in America even though only 40% said they knew someone for whom hunger was a serious problem. It seems likely that students are aware of hunger’s often hidden nature as well. In contrast to the earlier response regarding whether someone they knew dealt with hunger, 59% said they believe that there are students at our school whose family has difficulty keeping food on the table.
More encouraging to me than a simple awareness of the problem is the willingness of kids to help others. Nearly 70% stated that they had volunteered at a charity which worked to alleviate hunger. More than 40% said they would be very likely to do so when given the opportunity.
Still, despite the awareness and the willingness, some of the respondents seemed to have difficulty with the idea of hunger affecting them directly. One girl asked me, “what does it mean, ‘hunger has little affect on me’?” She asked who the true/false statement was meant to refer to. Was it asking if she had experienced hunger herself or if she felt sad for those who suffered from it? The difference would affect the way she answered, how she felt, and perhaps, what she did.
Another young girl gave up her birthday presents over the course of several years and asked that food be donated to feed the hungry in her city instead. Over several years her efforts brought in thousands of pounds of food. She and others like her care enough step out and making a difference. Maybe as adults, our goal should be to give them more opportunities to do so. Of course, that would involve stepping out a little ourselves, but how hard can that be? I mean, after all, if a kid can do it…
Cheri Roman is an incredible blogger over at The Brass Rag. Go check it out and leave her some kind words – K
Want to make a difference? Visit these incredible sites to find volunteer opportunities in your area!