Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Kids Caring 4 Kids

When many of us think of fundraising or donating money, we think of those people we see outside blocking the sidewalk, just waiting to prey on us and ask us if we have a minute for the children or gay rights or the environment. While we may agree with the issues that these solicitors stand for, almost everyone dreads having to walk past them. For the most part, they frequent the same areas, they refuese to believe you don't have the money to give them, and their tactics are pretty unoriginal. Kendall Ciesemier came up with a new and unique way to fundraise for the cause she believes in.

When she was eleven years old, Kendall watched a special on the Oprah Winfrey Show that focused on the struggle facing many AIDS orphans in Africa. Because Kendall was born with a chronic liver disease, she was no stranger to suffering. She imagined herself dealing with the problems of the AIDS orphans she learned about and deeply empathized with them. She decided that she needed to find a way to help. When she later underwent two liver transplants, instead of getting gifts and flowers, she asked family and friends to donate money for AIDS orphans like the ones she learned about on the show and the one she subsequently decided to sponsor through World Vision. As word spread about Kendall's efforts, more kids began organizing their own fundraisers to contribute, and eventually $15,000 were raised. This prompted the beginning of the organization Kids Caring 4 Kids in January 2005.

One of the things that makes Kids Caring 4 Kids so creative is that children are the main targets and agents for the fundraising. Kids are asked to empathize with fellow children in Africa and contribute small amounts of money to help the cause. The organization also appeals to children to host their own fundraisers to support the organization. On the Kids Caring 4 Kids website, there is list of suggested opportunities for kids to get involved with the cause. This ranges from the Just1 campaign that aims to have 200,000 kids each donate just $1 to raise the money needed to build a high school to hosting a dance-a-thon at a local high school to raise money. Other unique options include asking friends and family to bring donations for Kids Caring 4 Kids instead of gifts to a birthday party and having a musical perform at a local farmer's market to raise awareness and money. All of the options are accessible to children and teens who want to help. Along with the suggestions provided on the website, kids have the option to create their own fundraiser, allowing them to exercise their own creativity while supporting the cause. Throughout all of the possibilities, the main point stays the same: kids banding together to help other children who are less fortunate than themselves.

The way Kendall came up with the idea for Kids Caring 4 Kids is very unique and creative. Not only did she create a new non-profit organization at age eleven, but she also made the focus of that organization to be on empowering kids to create a positive impact on other kids who suffer from AIDS. Through this method, children are given a sense of purpose and potential. Kendall's motivation for creating the organization is also usual. As an eleven-year-old suffering from a liver disease and dealing with her own struggles, Kendall was deeply moved after learning about the suffering of other children across the world. Her compassion and intense desire to help them were her main motivation to start the non-profit. Kendall was able to affect so many powerful outcomes because of her intrinsic motivation. She did not have any outside factors motivating her to do all of that good for others. She simply wanted to do it because she enjoyed helping others and passionately wanted to do so. As Carl Rogers suggests, her intrinsic motivation is what has allowed Kendall and Kids Caring 4 Kids to be so successful. This intrinsic desire enabled her to create such a stong organization that might not have been the same if she was only working for an external reward. Because of this, Kids Caring 4 Kids remains a strong organization that is still working today to create better lives for children suffering in Africa. Below is a TED Talk where Kendall talks about her intrinsic motivations and desire to help children through self-actualization:

Some of Kendall's recognition:


  1. Most people realize the creative potential that exists in the mind of a young child. A constant sentiment regarding kids is that they see the world through different eyes than adults. They are not hindered by societies boundaries and ceilings regarding any given idea. Another factor regarding children is that, in most cases, they have an amazing amount of sympathy and caring for those around them. By providing a guide and a creative outlet for children to spread their ideas and positively influence others, Kendal has truly empowered the creative minds of young adolescents. In a TED lecture I recently watched the speaker addressed the idea that we all have the potential for creativity but society encourages us to not express our creativity. The summation of societies suppression of our creativity causes people to be less creative. Kendal has provided young kids with what they are often lacking: the ability to organize and put an idea into reality. This is a great testament to taking something such as fundraising for charity that has been around for decades and creating something new and unique. More importantly, Kendal has provided young children with a forum to explore their creativity while also helping others. This may be the greatest impact that Kendal has had on future generations. Through providing a creative outlet for young children and encouraging them to be unique and creative in their ideas, she is helping to foster the next generation of creative minds.

  2. When I listen to Blues games, I hear about this organization throughout the game through a handful of ads and its one of my favorite ideas for a charity. It also happens to coincide very well with the class from today, with the idea of play in a child. More specifically, the idea of role play is in place here, asking the kids to look at kids in other situations and trying to place themselves in that light. Especially by allowing the kids to choose their own fundraiser, their own reason or method to gather the funds, just in general allowing the kids to put their own spin on it can really go a long way to connect that creativity with someone that will help others. While others suffering is hardly a role many of us want to "role play" as, that idea of role play helping with the empathy that people feel towards others is a major point here. Even someone like Kendall, far from an ideal position in her own life, could look at the suffering of others and tried to imagine a way she could help better their lives. The approach allows for this empathy and exploring the perspective of others, while also incorporating the charity and fundraising aspects. This duality approach also lends itself to an increased critical thinking and problem solving mindset, one that is essential to the development of creativity, especially in young minds.


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