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Be kind and engaged, even when times are tough

By Laura Allen
North Carolina Cooperative Extension

The 4-H’s “Learn by Doing” approach teaches youth in our area how to gain new skills in a very interactive, hands-on approach. This may seem a little difficult during a pandemic; however, there are still ways youth can engage in positive citizenship and community service activities while staying safe and following all orders.

Isolation for youth can be hard. Small acts of kindness go a long way, though. Parents can encourage youth to still find ways to interact with and be helpful towards other people. Perhaps your neighbor is lonely. To brighten their day, simply wave or say “hello” to them as you walk to your mailbox. Taking out the trash for a neighbor may also be more helpful than you realize. Being a good neighbor is something we should try to do all the time, not just during a pandemic, but it is especially important at this time. When out in public, making eye contact or saying hello, something to acknowledge that you notice another person’s existence, may be small but beneficial. Adults and youth can both put this into practice. Even though we should distance ourselves, we shouldn’t live as if other people are invisible. Youths can make a card for someone in a nursing home or send “snail mail” to a loved one or friend they miss. This will boost spirits on both sides of the mailbox.

There are also ways families can help better our community. One is to keep it clean. Many roadsides and outdoor areas have a lot of trash. Keeping safety in mind, cleaning up these areas is something that you can do while practicing social distancing. Also, buildings like churches or community centers are not being utilized as much, so it’s a great time to clean them, but make sure you have permission first. Wiping ceiling fans and dusting the building, doing things that aren’t done on a regular basis, or going outside and keeping the yard mowed are great ways to contribute your family’s time. If cleaning up your community is not an option for your family, encourage youths to help around the house. As a mother of two, I can assure you that children helping with age appropriate household tasks is appreciated.

Being a good citizen is also important. We often forget that we live in a wonderful country and take our government and freedoms for granted. As you may know, this is a census year. Have a conversation with your family and make sure your household has completed the 2020 Census at 2020census.gov. Also, mentioning the census to other families in your circle helps promote it and brings awareness of why it is important. As of July 1, 60.7% of households in Rowan County had completed the census. Please do your part in completing and promoting the census. Additionally, since this is an election year, make sure you are registered to vote if you are 18 years of age or older. Your vote matters and your vote counts. Spend some time together as a family researching local, state and national candidates and have discussions about their pros and cons and why you have chosen to vote for that candidate.

Not everyone is in the position to adjust their finances, but maybe your family is. Perhaps you have money budgeted for gas money or going to the movies, bowling alley, or out to eat that you are not spending at this time. This money could be used as a donation to a local/small business or organization that is important to you. Teaching children to give, even when times are hard, can be a lesson that lasts a lifetime.

Not everyone is able to help in the same way but we can all do something to help one another during this time. No matter how big or small, acts of kindness, service, citizenship and love are important now and in the future.

For information about Rowan County 4-H, visit rowan.ces.ncsu.edu or contact Laura Allen, 4-H Agent, at laura_allen@ncsu.edu or 704-216-8970.

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