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Kids Involved in Community Kindness

Alternatives Inc., Hampton, VA
Capital: Polity, Personal

Alternatives Inc. developed KICK in school, community, and faith-based sites. The program serves 100 students, through a 10-week program (90 minutes per week) or as a four-day summer camp. Each project typically involves 15 to 20 youth. Students take the following steps to develop and implement a service project in their neighborhood:

Reflecting on what is and what is not happening in their school, neighborhood, or community.

  • Identifying a problem they wish to address.
  • Identifying root causes for the problem.
  • Selecting a root cause that they care about and identifying a project to address the cause.
  • Organizing an action tool to implement the project.
  • Implementing the project.
  • Reflecting on their experience and evaluating the results.
  • Celebrating their project with family and guests.

Students engage in various activities, such as journal writing, Internet research, games, interviews, creative writing, and walking tours. Through these tasks, students develop critical thinking skills and demonstrate the responsibility to complete a project. Participants further increase their capital growth by exploring policies or more complex issues as they identify the root cause of issues relevant to them.

Often, the projects relate directly to the students' lives. For example, three boys in the program decided to improve the basketball court at the Y. H. Thomas Community Center. Their first step was to take pictures of the court and develop questions to ask the Y. H. Thomas board of directors. Next, they made a display with their photographs and questions and presented it to the board. Board members listened and allowed them to go forward with their improvement plan. The youth recruited volunteers from a local high school basketball team to help them paint the court and hang new nets.

KICK has demonstrated its sustainability. The program has been serving students in Grades 3-7 for the past two years. The project directors note that the community seems very open to projects and is often surprised by the youths' abilities to identify community needs and implement meaningful solutions. The students are encouraged by the support of the community and the ability to make a difference.

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