Social Action in Action
When I was a child, I remember going grocery shopping with my mom and we would often see homeless people outside asking for money or food. I would turn to my mother and ask her what we could do. As we grocery shopped for our family, she allowed me to pick out foods that I thought would be nutritious and helpful to the person who sat outside. The person was unaware that there was a little girl inside the store thinking about them, what they might like to eat, how hungry they might be and wondering where their parents were. What I realize now, as an adult and an educator, is that my mother helped empower me to make a difference in the lives of others by giving of myself and my energy.
Planting the seeds of volunteerism in young children is so important to foster empathy, kindness and the courage to make a difference. It is challenging, however, to find agencies that allow young children to volunteer. How could a child be too young to give of themselves and learn the importance of giving back and understanding the struggles of those around them? Within the framework of the Tikkun Olam program at Bialik, we set out on a journey to bring social action to the doorstep of the many Bialik families seeking opportunities for their children.
We connected with our partner, the UJA Federation, to find organizations willing to take a chance on young volunteers. Together, we planned our first activity — a bus mission along the Bathurst corridor, with enough room for 20 Bialik families. Within three days, so many families had signed up that we had to close registration. On the day of the mission, our families visited the Bernard Betel Centre and helped with BINGO for the seniors. Then, they volunteered at Kayla’s Centre where students engaged in adaptive sportball for children who have intellectual and physical disabilities.
I will never forget waiting at school that Sunday for our first ever Social Action in Action event and wondering how many people would actually show up during a snowstorm. Every single one did. I was brought to tears several times that day as I witnessed our Bialik kids bringing smiles to the faces of seniors and making connections with the children at Kayla’s Centre. Since the bus mission, Bialik has had numerous other social action activities and each one has been inspiring for the participants. From sandwich making for Va’ahavta to the packing of Passover food boxes together, the response has been overwhelming.
The testimonials we receive from our parents articulate the impact the Social Action in Action program has had on their families. The support for this program has been humbling. It is a true testament to the values that our families hold dear and their desire to teach their young children, in a hands-on way, about gemilut chasadim.
Vice Principal, Elementary Division