Two clever charities caught my eye recently. They both serve children with intriguing concepts and missions.
Kids and Character
If you wonder sometimes what has happened to good manners and character building for our kids, you'll be heartened by a little organization called Characters of Character.
Character and manners may seem old fashioned today, but, thankfully, Characters of Character keeps plugging away at teaching those old-fashioned values. The Illinois based charity works with young children, using charming cartoons and actual costumed characters that range from Healthy Hippo to Manners Monkey to Self-Esteem Elephant (pictured here).
Joni Downey founded Characters of Character and created the characters. Downey noticed that young kids struggle sometimes to understand how to put into practice the character traits they are often taught in the abstract. So she came up with a line of cuddly characters to represent and model those traits. The characters include Behavior Bear, Respectful Rabbit, and Do'er Duck.
At first, the characters were just scraps of construction paper, but they soon turned into wood panels, and now into full-body suits. The characters have been at expos, workshops, and in classrooms. Downey has even developed curricula and classroom materials that can be used easily by teachers.
Kids and Horses Mean More Reading
What could be more appealing than kids, horses, and reading?
The Horse Tales Literacy Project brings all of those elements together. Honestly, do you know any kid who doesn't love stories about horses?
Well, the Horse Tales Literacy Project is right out of The Black Stallion book series. Seriously! Tim Farley, son of Walter Farley, the author of that classic tale, and friend Mark Miller (the genius behind the Arabian Nights Dinner Theater in Orlando) founded The Black Stallion Literacy Foundation in the late 90s. The current charity is its offspring.
The idea was to use the love of horses, exhibited by almost all children, to motivate them to learn to read and to read more. Today, the literacy charity inspires thousands of children around the country by combining classic horse literature with the experience of visiting live horses to get kids to keep reading.
The Horse Tales Literacy Project works within communities and schools, as well as with many national nonprofits such as the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Clubs, the Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts. The program targets first graders and 4th and 5th graders. If the horse stories don't reel them in, visiting, learning about, and reading to actual horses certainly does.
Read more about this great program at its website where you can learn how to support the project and get involved.
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Photos: Courtesy of Characters for Character and Horse Tales Literacy Project
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