Encouraging our kids to see beyond themselves and outside their everyday is paramount to their development. Thinking about others on the regular and seeking to make an impact can truly form the minds of the youngest of our population. Setting a good foundation early is so much more impactful and life-changing, and who knows, if they think they can make a difference when they’re kids, imagine what the overall impact their entire live will have. One of my heart’s passions is ending extreme poverty. The thing is, it is absolutely possible— the reason we haven’t is because we don’t think we can. Taking small steps like these are key in ending poverty worldwide. Raising kids who believe they can and do make a difference is one of the greatest things we can do as parents.

1. Shop fair trade. Seems simple and makes sense, but so many of us are unwilling to put our money where our mouth is. Buying fair trade whenever you can truly uplifts and supports others, giving them work and dignity and value. When people are valued, not seen as charity cases or simply ignored, they are encouraged to better themselves. It’s becoming easier as more and more businesses are conscious that we as consumers care if they employ slaves or not. I encourage you to look into companies like Noonday Collection, The Root Collective, Krochet Kids Intl, Patagonia, and countless coffee and chocolate producers. Make the fair trade choice. When you do, talk with your kids about why you do. They’ll notice. 

2. Sponsor a child. We’ve all seen some sort of infomercial about sending money to help others in crisis or adopt abandoned pets and we tend to look the other way wondering if they are a legitimate organization or because it’s easier—I’m here to tell you sponsoring a child really does radically change their life. We chose to sponsor with Compassion International and have become mildly addicted to it. We write letters, receive letters, and pray for these kids every night. My kids love hearing about them, from them, looking at their pictures on the fridge, and look forward to meeting them one day. My husband and I have traveled to Bolivia, Burkina Faso, and the Philippines to visit our sponsor kids and can tell you first hand these kids’ lives are impacted in a major way by my measly $38/month. Teaching our kids how blessed we are here in the U.S. by our coincidental birth—just because they were born here we have opportunity—will help them to see it’s all a gift. We’ve been given this gift and must steward it well. One awesome way is to help a child in need. There are many child sponsorship programs, do your research, engage your kids, open their eyes. 

3. Travel internationally. Plan and execute international trips!! In addition to experiencing the food and the sights, be sure to add deeply cultural experiences like visiting a sponsor child, a missionary, or attending a worship service locally. Be intentional about traveling, read books about the culture before going, read a novel by someone from that country, look into the politics and history of the nation, stay at an Air BnB to get a feel for what it might be like to live there. Really immerse yourself and your kids into the culture around you. Exposure and discussion is key!

4. Read! If you don’t have a big international travel budget, you can still expose your kids to all kinds of cultures through reading. Choose a country, read literature about it, dive into their folk tales, characters, picture books and provide a fun conversation with your kids! Get a cookbook and make something fun from that country. Encourage the kids to imagine and explore, all free at your local library! 

5. Cultivate a home culture of love and kindness, Talk, talk, talk!! Discuss the issues of fair trade and global impact with your kids regularly. Your words and attitudes shape more than you know. Kids will pick up on what we pour out. Everyday speech and our deep heart attitude really do make a difference in shaping their worldview. Where do you stand when it comes to being globally-minded? Do you think YOU can make a difference? Chances are, if you’re looking outside of yourself, it’ll leak out onto your family. 

Kristen Lukefahr served as Heritage’s Children’s Ministry Director until she and her family relocated to Pennsylvania. A former teacher now homeschooling her two kids, she’s passionate about raising up the next generation!