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and "I would ask myself if there weren't something
that could be done about that sort of thing"
-- Winnie the Pooh
from the Te of Piglet

An Exponential Idea In Giving

Here's an exponential idea for our time. What if, each time someone did a good deed for someone else, the good deed was paid back by paying it forward to three additional people? In turn, each day, each person, having received a good deed, did a good deed for three more people.

According to the Pay It Forward, www.payitforward.com, a movie scheduled to premiere in theaters in October 2000 and based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde, in just two weeks 4,782,969 people will have been touched by the pay it forward principle. Pay It Forward tells the story of Trevor McKinney, a 12-year-old boy whose extra credit social studies assignment is to come up with an idea for making this world a better place.

McKinney comes up with an idea for a single act of goodness compounding into many acts of goodness and the pay it forward principle is set into action. "It doesn't even have to be a big thing. It might just seem like a big thing. Depending on who you do it for."

McKinney is a fictional character who will hopefully inspire anyone meeting him in the pages of a book to practice the pay it forward principle but more inspiring are the real life kids whose simple and profound ideas of making this world a better place are put into action each day.

Clinton Hill founded Kids For Saving Earth, www.kidsforsavingearth.org, as a club for kids dedicated to peaceful Earth-saving actions. The mission of Kids For Saving Earth is to educate, inspire and empower children to protect the Earth's environment and provides great action-oriented educational materials to kids, parents, family groups, teachers, classrooms and schools. He was taken by cancer at the age of 11 and his mother continues his idea and work on his behalf.

Craig Kielburger, now 16, founded Free the Children, www.freethechildren.org, an international children's organization whose mission is to free children from poverty and exploitation and to empower young people to become leaders in their communities. At the age of 12, he became an advocate for children's rights after he read about the murder of a child from Pakistan who had been sold into bondage as a carpet weaver.

KIDS Walk for Homeless Kids, www.kidswalk.org, was founded when a child, having met a homeless person and learning that many of the homeless are kids, had a vision of kids making a difference in the lives of homeless kids by creating an event to raise funds. KIDS Walk for Homeless Kids is in it's third year of raising money to help homeless kids.

Catherine Ryan Hyde has established the Pay It Forward Foundation, www.payitforwardfoundation.com, to inspire school-age kids in realizing that their ideas can indeed change the world and provide them with the opportunities to put those ideas into action.

For kids interested in making this world a better place, locally or globally, here are some steps on how to get started:

  • Choose a project. This can be an idea that comes from hearing about a need or encountering someone in need. It can come from conversations with your family and friends. Decide on something that makes you think, as Winnie the Pooh pondered, "and I would ask myself if there weren't something that could be done about that sort of thing". Something that you feel in your heart needs to be improved for the benefit of others. If you feel this way about your idea, so will others.
  • Involve others. Tell your parents, teachers, family members and friends of your idea and ask if they will be interested in helping you. Often others will have ideas, contacts and resources to add to the successful start of your idea.
  • Involve the community. Contact local associations, organizations, churches, clubs and businesses who might be interested in helping with your idea. Write to the local newspapers and any other local publications to tell them who you are, what you are doing, why you are doing it, where it will take place and when any special events are being planned. Call local radio and television stations to let them know.
Most of all, never become discouraged if what you would like to make better seems so much bigger than you. Believe in yourself and your idea. One person can make this world a better place. It is the exponential effect of giving and good deeds.

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Dalene Entenmann, an advocate for the creativity and spirit of kids, is a freelance writer and has been working as a web manager/content provider since 1997. You can visit Ms. Entenmann at www.hopeandhealing.com For The Creativity and Spirit Of Kids, or email her Dalene

©2000 All rights reserved. Available for reprint only with written permission of the Newberg Kids publisher. If interested in publishing this column or other columns written by Ms. Entenmann, please contact the Publisher of Newberg Kids.