Even before the coronavirus pandemic, mental health was a growing challenge across North America. Over six million American children under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. This was before the isolating effects of physical distancing and the trauma of loss due to COVID-19.

A family doing an activity at home
A family doing an activity at home
For parents worried about their children’s well-being, a surprisingly effective tonic is giving back.

The pressure on families and children is immense. Parents must be homeschool teachers and caregivers while still expected to put in a full day’s work from home. Kids’ routines have been entirely upended and they feel rudderless, helpless. I’ve been working with young people for more than 25 years, and with National Volunteer Week approaching, I’m reminded that much of what kids are seeking — now and always — is purpose. For parents worried about their children’s well-being, a surprisingly effective tonic is giving back. The benefits of volunteering are numerous, including wellness and the development of soft skills (also called social emotional learning skills) like empathy, teamwork, self-confidence and leadership. …


Any founder will tell you that one of the biggest challenges is holding on to the mission-driven culture that drew people to you in the first place.

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Bi-annually, we arrange a staff trip to visit our partner communities in one of the countries where our charity works around the world.

When friends and I started our charity 25 years ago, we didn’t set out to build an international movement. We were just kids — a group of 12-year-olds who had banded together to help fight child labor. Our work didn’t exactly make us the most popular kids at school (back then it wasn’t cool to care), but we were passionate about battling injustice and it bonded our little group in a powerful way.

Still, our movement grew. In those early days we made poster boards about child labor and organized petitions out of my parents’ basement, celebrating our first big wins over pizza and sodas. But as WE Charity blossomed (and our founding members came of age), we moved into our first offices and hired our first staff. We brought on development experts and project managers, accountants and marketing specialists and an IT team — with considerable help from Oprah Winfrey, but that’s a story for another time. …


18 years ago, a young immigrant from Gaza joined our fledgling charity and made an indelible impact.

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Hosting a citizenship ceremony at our organization’s headquarters was a truly full circle moment for Dalal Al-Waheidi.

My friend Dalal is no stranger to public speaking. As the Executive Director of WE Charity, Dalal Al-Waheidi finds herself speaking everywhere from university campuses to the organization’s board meetings — it’s all part of the job. Still, at a small event at our offices in January, I swear I saw a touch of nerves on her face as she stepped up to the podium. This time, I knew, it was different. It was personal.

The event was a Canadian citizenship ceremony, where she was invited to welcome 71 newly minted Canadians at our organization’s headquarters. As an immigrant herself, Dalal told me it touched her deeply. …


If you find yourself dwelling on the bad stuff, here’s an easy habit from mental health experts that could help.

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If you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts, mindfulness can help — but it doesn’t always have to look like this | Image source

Do you ever notice how it’s always the bad memories that stick with you? Try this: picture a warm, happy memory from your childhood. Now try reaching back for a bad one — something embarrassing or frightening or unpleasant. I bet that one feels more vivid, doesn’t it? The good memory feels nice, but perhaps a little faded, whereas the bad one feels intense, hitting you right in the gut as if it happened yesterday.

It’s no accident. Early in human history, human beings developed a tendency to retain negative experiences as a survival trait. At the time, it was important that your brain kept a record of anything that could hurt you — think poisonous plants or dangerous predators. As psychologist Dr. …


These heartwarming NFL moments happened long before kickoff.

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Youth from Miami’s Overtown community gathered to pack 300 care kits for a local homeless shelter as part of the NFL and WE’s Huddle for Good program.

With the Chiefs and the 49ers facing off on Sunday, this year’s Super Bowl has no shortage of excitement in store. Will Patrick Mahomes lead Kansas City to its first Super Bowl victory in half a century? Or will the 49ers cap off one of the biggest turnarounds in sports history by bringing the Lombardi trophy back to San Francisco? Plus, there’s Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s half-time performance to look forward to, and the fun commercials, of course.

Still, as I sit down to watch the big game on Sunday, I must admit that the stories at the top of my mind won’t be about the 49ers, the Chiefs or J. …


My advice to anyone who wants to start a charity? Don’t do it.

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When friends and I started a charity 25 years ago, all we had was a fax machine, a Commodore 64 computer and a dozen kids around a kitchen table. At the time, it was much more difficult to look up a charity to join, so we started our own.

As a non-profit founder, people often ask me about starting a charity. Do you have any tips? How do you get started? I always give the same advice: “don’t.”

That might sound harsh, but allow me to explain.

Early on in our development work in rural Kenya, we revitalized a derelict medical clinic called Kishon. The organization that founded it had covered the costs of building the structure, but after they cut the ribbon, representatives snapped a photo and left. They neglected to hire doctors or partner with local governments to ensure that the clinic was actually operational. The result was a shiny new building, still with plastic coverings on the door handles — with zero medical care for the community. Still, the villagers were hopeful; they pooled money to pay a gardener to maintain the grounds. For two years he kept it up, fighting the unruly grass with a machete (lawnmowers aren’t easy to come by in rural Kenya). The community reasoned that if the grounds and the building looked nice, the organization would come back to resume the project. …


Delivering positive social change today means seizing every opportunity afforded by emerging technology. Here’s how we used tech to scale our impact.

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We started WE Charity in 1995 with one phone line, a fax machine, and a Commodore 64 computer. That was high-tech to us, given we were just a bunch of teenagers who wanted to make a difference, having organized ourselves in my parents’ living room around a shared passion to end child labor. We collected handwritten signatures on a petition we kept in a shoebox. We made poster boards and photocopied pamphlets and distributed them ourselves. We grew by word of mouth — friends sharing our story with friends, and the occasional news story in the local paper. …


Start your new year off right with a few acts to make the world a better place.

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Local charities often get more than enough volunteers over the holidays but could use an extra hand in January when volunteering is less popular. | Image source

The holidays are over, but ’tis the season once more — for New Year’s resolutions. For many of us, it’s time to make promises to ourselves about eating healthier, managing our finances better, learning a new language or going full Marie Kondo on those cluttered closets.

That said, traditional resolutions aren’t for everyone. With all the travel I do for work, being on the road 300 days out of the year, I find it hard to stick to resolutions that rely on routine. Still, I love the idealism behind a new year’s commitment. Instead of internalizing all of that energy for self-improvement, why not harness some of it to help make the world a better place? …


Annual giving can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

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This season is the perfect time to think about what matters to you, and the impact you want to make on the lives of others. | Image source

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — but no, I’m not talking about the holidays. It’s giving season! Many of us make annual donations at the year’s end, a time to reflect on how to make a difference with your charitable dollars.

After decades spent working in the charitable world, I know that for most families, annual giving can be overwhelming. You have a limited amount that you’re able to give, and of course, you want to make the biggest impact. As a family, you have different interests and passions, and with countless worthy causes out there, it isn’t easy to pick just one. …


Scrambling to finish your holiday shopping? Try picking up a gift that makes an impact.

Have you left your holiday shopping until the last minute this year? Don’t worry, so have I. For many of us, ’tis the season for a panicked trip to the mall to find parking, fight crowds and pick up trinkets. That sense of urgency leaves us scrambling for anything, as opposed to something meaningful.

Why not choose a gift that makes an impact, one with the meaning built right in? With so many socially conscious and environmentally friendly companies out there, you’re bound to find something for everyone on your list.

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Conscious Step Socks are a cozy way to give back.

Socks that save animals

This adorable set from Conscious Step Socks gives a portion of profits to causes that save animals — including a charity that protects wildlife from trafficking, and an organization that saves rescue animals by supporting animal shelters across America. Plus, the socks are vegan, so it’s a great choice for your favorite animal-lover. …

About

Craig Kielburger

New York Times bestselling author, syndicated columnist and co-founder of WE Charity and ME to WE Social Enterprise | @WEmovement | we.org | craigkielburger.com

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