If every child in the United States grew up exposed to the problems facing their peers within their schools, we believe it would provide a nurturing opportunity for them to get involved. Their young minds would be exposed to valuable lessons.
Children are our future leaders. They are compassionate, caring and have a need to solve the world’s problems. Every child has seen a picture of a starving child in the developing world on television. What if they knew that a starving child lived in their own neighborhood? What if they found out that one of their classmates went home for the weekend and would not receive a single meal?
We at The Kind Mouse feel it is important to involve the entire community in our mission’s efforts. For the sustainability of our cause, we believe the solution lies in our Outreach Programs; Mice in Training and Mice Interns. These programs engage young people, ages 5-18, and provide an opportunity for them to better themselves and their communities through non-profit, service-based entrepreneurship.
Positive peer-to-peer engagement is a key component to our Outreach Programs. The older Mice Interns volunteer for a number of reasons, including their desire to achieve the required community service hours for school or potential scholarships. Mice in Training, under the age of 12, recognize that they, too, have a voice -- no matter how small. They learn by example and by involving the younger children in community service, they have the chance to witness the work of the older "Mice" as they actively engage and participate in all activities.
Mice in Training and Mice Interns are being groomed to be “The Voice of The Children” – the voice of the children we serve and to give hope where there is none. The children run food drives, organize events, budget, purchase and pack the food as well as participate in public speaking at local civic engagements. They deliver food to the schools and to other nonprofits that are in collaboration with us to feed hungry children. Over the summer the pantry is open 4 days a week to these students to earn service hours as well as learn the workings of a nonprofit. They have their own Board with a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, with committee heads for events, video and media as well as bi-monthly board meetings.
The children in our program who receive our Mouse Nibbles food sacks do not have names. They are protected. Names are significant and one day when they take that step out of poverty they can tell their story and share their name. Names are significant and lend to the identity and dignity of people. One day, this child may want to give back to their own community based upon their personal experiences as a recipient of The Kind Mouse program.
The most promising aspects of our program for ensuring children grow up with a strong sense of self, purpose, and belonging lies in their voices. Our "Mice" have an idea to open a food pantry in every school. A school extracurricular activity, like a Chess Club, would be formed and the children would take responsibility for the program -- from running food drives, organizing events and fundraisers, budgeting, purchasing and packing the food as well as public speaking. If each school did this, weekend hunger would be a thing of the past. We believe in our youth and we see this idea catching on in schools across the country.