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 Children as citizens – social justice in the early years

social justice in early learning
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Philanthropy: the desire to promote the welfare of others

Inspired by social justice and educator research projects centred on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the education team at Wellbank Children’s Centre explored the question:

How can we better advocate the philanthropic participation of children within the wider community?

Elesha Nounnis, an early childhood teacher at Wellbank, shares their story with Amplify readers, showing how social justice can become a positive and meaningful aspect of early years learning and have a real impact on children, educators, families and the hard working and caring teams working to improve the lives of disadvantaged people everywhere.

Social justice beyond the gates

How can we better advocate the philanthropic participation of children within the wider community?

We wanted to take the children beyond the gates and explore real issues of concern within the community.

We also wanted to do more than just talk about it, but to take the children on a journey of reaching out and helping those in need with a real sense of community and purpose.

Alice on homelessness

Start with a plan

Our work began at the centre with curriculum planning that saw our children learn about issues of community concern – homelessness, the refugee experience, and poverty.

With this special focus on social justice issues the team of educators and families alike were filled with a sense of pride and wonder at the level of maturity and responsiveness with which the children took all of these issues on board.

The children, filled with empathy, learnt the personal refugee stories of two of our educators during Refugee Week.

This inspired a series of drawings and stories and the initiation of a collection project for the Asylum Seekers Centre Newtown.

On our council bus, a group of our toddlers and preschool room children delivered the goods donated by our children and families to the centre and saw first-hand the wonderful community support this service provides.

Food collection

Focus on homelessness

Drawing further on the children’s growing understandings of broader community issues we embarked on a project of homelessness within the community.

Group work, stories, drawings and discussions saw the preschool group make a real connection to the impact and role of the community to help.

“They need some food and somewhere to sleep”

– Ella 4 years old.

So began our Exodus Foundation Project.

The Exodus Foundation do such wonderful work helping those in need within our communities. Our group of children hand-delivered their collected food cans to the foundation at Ashfield and had the pleasure of meeting Reverend Bill Crews who came to meet and talk with the children.

 

The children had a tour of the grounds visiting the Loaves and Fishes restaurant where meals are served daily to homeless people and others in need. We chatted to the many volunteers on hand who were preparing for lunch service, and saw the kitchen where all the food was been prepared.

Loaves and Fishes restaurant

Mini Sleepout

Continuing on our social justice journey we hosted a Mission Australia Mini Sleepout – a great way to adapt the annual fund raiser so that young children and their families could participate.

On a very cold winter’s night, families gathered around our fire pit, bundled up in beanies and blankets, with soup mugs in hand, to contemplate the realities of the homelessness experience within our community.

We raised more than $1,000 for Mission Australia.

mission australia sleepout

These experiences have helped us to advocate to the wider community the value we place on our children here at Wellbank as active, responsible, empathetic and contributing community citizens.

Our experiences have also planted the seeds for a culture of community within the centre, with plans already in place to revisit these connections annually.

Caitlyn's thoughts on homelessness

Thoughts that inspired us

“They learn about worlds beyond their own experience. They also learn confidence in public speaking, how to make a case, how to choose a charity, research skills, fundraising and entrepreneurial skills, tolerance and empathy. Through this experience they can then define what philanthropy means to them and what change they would like to see in the world. They learn, just by small acts of giving, how to become a change maker, what it means to be a good person and citizen as well as learning from and teaching others how to collaborate and make a difference. They learn about the multiplier effect of small acts and the large impact that can have on their communities”.

Jackie King, Research Associate, Australian Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy, Swinburne University of Technology

The Conversation, 20 August 2013

 

“Studies demonstrate that altruistic behaviour is habit forming and encourages children to demonstrate empathy and generosity,” says Liz Branigan, PEP researcher and Centre for Social Impact Swinburne senior lecturer in a recent paper. It is also well established that the younger children are encouraged to give philanthropically, the more likely it is that giving will become a common practice in later life.”

Teaching Aussie kids philanthropy (and other fun stuff) by Sam Gibbs. August 14, 2014

Links to some actions you can take

http://asylumseekerscentre.org.au/donate

https://masleepout.gofundraise.com.au/page/WellbankMinisleepout2017

 

 

 

One thought on “ Children as citizens – social justice in the early years

  1. A wonderful ongoing initiative! This work is so important for children now and the adults they become. Great to see authentic community engagement!

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