Wednesday, September 15, 2010

‘Do good’ for your kid’s school and the planet

Teachers and administrators LOVE parent volunteers. Every year when my kids go back to school there seems to be an even longer list of volunteer opportunities. Most schools are time and cash crunched, so if I can help out then that’s great. Everyone benefits.

But what if you could help out AND do something good for the earth at the same time? Fact is, you can. And by helping out your environment, you also improve your child’s health, safety, and happiness. It’s a win-win. Plus, if everyone learns more about habitats and how to better take care of them (including within your own community), then you’ve also paid the planet and your family forward.

In the book The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home (St. Martin’s Press, $16.95), there is a wonderful blueprint on how to work with your child’s school to make a difference, along with pages of specific how-to’s and resources.

Here are some additional ideas:

  • In charge of finding more money? For fundraising, steer clear of junk food, candy, and wrapping paper. Instead, go for the green with positive-planet and health-loving impact. www.Terracycle.net helps you create a recycling brigade to get money for your school, plus they have up-to-date companion curriculum series for teachers. Or try a community event; if you have musical-artist parents who would donate time and talent, then put together an at-school concert and sell tickets. If you want to sell products, www.go-green-fundraising.com has several ideas – flower bulbs, savings cards, live tree kits, and healthy food products.
  • Got a farmer in you? School gardens are on the rise, teaching your children about the cycle of life and, in turn, helping them improve their own. www.RealSchoolGardens.org is a beautiful site to help you get going. Small space? Try www.woollypocket.com’s Woolly School Garden program. Also, talk to your local nurseries about donating plants in exchange for parent newsletter exposure.
  • Want to tell a tale? All kids, and adults, like good stories. If you’ve got a bit of theater in you, donate time to read a book to a classroom. With older children, you can also have a bit of discussion afterwards about the story or have an activity related to the book. LOTS of book choices out there. Try Catfish Cookies by Barbara Higgins-Dover about river protection for 5-8 year olds, Compost Stew by Mary McKenna Siddals about how to start a compost for 4-8 year olds, and my favorite The Lorax by Dr. Seuss about conservation and choices for 4-12 year olds. At www.seussville.com there are classroom resources for The Lorax.
  • Soft heart for animals? Great! Bring that depth of compassion to schoolchildren with a humane treatment for farm animals spin. www.FarmSanctuary.org has kid-friendly educational resources for teachers and volunteer presenters. This also segues into an opportunity to talk about eating a more herbivore diet for both health reasons and to take pressure off of our protein production; www.vegsoc.org has resources available.
  • Talented in the art of persuasion? Another way to get your school some enrichment or improvement money is to dedicate time to finding and applying for grants. There are grants specific to environmentally oriented programs. www.CaptainPlanetFoundation.org gives grants for school programs that promote understanding of environmental issues. www.mgaef.org provides funds for school programs that emphasize solving problems with ecological knowledge. If you want to inspire kids to take care of the environment or their community, Nickelodeon has “The Big Help” campaign with a “Million Dollars for a Million Moves” grant program at http://pro-social.nick.com. More links to grant possibilities are on my home page at www.terrawellington.com, many of which have early deadlines. Good luck!

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