Develop the Changemaker in Your Child


What started out as a classroom project has become for Daniel 'Chip' Gatmaytan, a student of the Multiple Intelligence International School (MIIS), a burning advocacy. In 2011, Chip went to Congress asking legislators to pass the Healthy Beverage Options Act. When passed, the bill would not only provide for children healthy beverage options in school, it would also ask schools to banish softdrinks from their premises. Chip's advocacy easily brings in the image of a young David taking on the giant Goliath, but the young one is unperturbed. He believes in his cause, and is bent on seeing it to its fruition. Tales such as those of Chip's certainly bring a sense of hope on humanity. If a young man like Chip could take on global conglomerates for the cause of the greater good, then there is hope for a brighter future. But more than admiring young changemakers like Chip, parents can help their children become more proactive too. Mary Joy Abaquin, MIIS founder, gives us a few cues on how to develop the changemaker in your child:

1. Develop a sense of empathy in your children. Kids tend to be centered on their own needs and wants, says Teacher Joy. The challenge is for parents to guide their children towards looking at specific situations from the point of view of others. Help your child process events and situations. Ask him questions that could steer him towards putting himself in the shoes of others.

2. Provide opportunities for your children to care for others. Teacher Joy says, “If you do not give them opportunities to experience it, then it's like an intellectual exercise of caring, not an actual one.” Teacher Joy, for example, always tells her children about the value of education. When one of daughters thus thought of doing something good for the school-age girls at a shelter near their home, she came up with the idea of bringing them to Mind Museum. Teacher Joy says, “She thought the girls were smart but that they didn't have opportunities to go to such places.” So the young girl had a garage sale of sorts to raise funds for the museum tickets.

3. Support their intiatives. Opportunities for empathy are everywhere, we just have to be attuned it. One of MIIS's students, for instance, went on a Visita Iglesia with her family. Of the many churches they visited, one in Tagaytay piqued the girl's interest as it looked rundown and dilapidated. When the girl asked her parents how she can help, they didn't brush her away. They helped her come up with ideas on how she can make a difference. Because the young girl loved making bracelets and had lots of beads, she decided to make rosaries out of the beads, and sell them. The money she raised she donated to the church.

4. Find good mentors for them. Sometimes, says Teacher Joy, your child might have a good idea, but he has a difficult time translating it. This is where mentors come in. We are their parents, of course, but sometimes our knowledge, expertise, and experience can go so far. If you want your child to pursue his interests and realize his potential, then it's best to find the right people who can help him do so.