Journalist Hilde Kate Lysiak broke a news story about a neighborhood murder. After talking with neighbors and police, she posted a full-length story and some video footage online. She scooped all the other news agencies, both print and television.
She is nine years old.
Her father, a writer and former reporter for the New York Daily News, used to take her to the newsroom and around New York as he followed leads. She loved it. After the family moved to Pennsylvania, Hilde decided that people needed to know the news of what was happening in their area. In 2014 Orange Street News was born. She covers almost anything from neighbors who take in stray cats to vandalism to suspected drug problems in school.
But writing about murder? Well, that seemed to change people’s opinions. Comments on her Facebook page suggested she should play with dolls or have tea parties and that her reporting was no longer cute. She disagreed.
In an opinion piece, she explained why:
“I don’t think people should be able to decide for me who I should be and what I should be doing. I never began my newspaper so that people would think I was cute. I started the Orange Street News to give people the information they need to know.
“I want to be taken seriously. I’m sure other kids do too. Grown-ups usually treat kids like they cannot do anything great. If adults don’t think we can do something, then it is hard for us to believe that we can. And then how will we have great things in this world?”
We constantly barrage kids with the question, What do you want to be when you grow up? Why aren’t we asking them what they want to be right now? How will they be confident adults if we don’t let them become confident children? Why have we accepted the idea that making a difference is something for the future? When did society decide that children must reach some magical, discretionary age before their contributions are worthwhile? And has this attitude infiltrated our churches? God has knit our kids together with their specific skill sets, gifts, interests, and personalities. And he prepared good works for them to do—for their entire life, not just for later. Everyone is capable of contributing now.
So how do we help our kids discover these opportunities? Here are two questions to ask our children now, so we fill the world with self-assured, determined, service-oriented people who know that by serving others they are serving Jesus.
- What do you want to change right now? Ask them what bothers them, what struggles they see, what makes them sad, what gives them hope, which people they would like to help. For some it might be bullying or kids feeling left out. Others might feel strongly about domestic violence or serving retired military. Some kids love animals or younger children or older adults or music or the environment or feeding the hungry. Some want to help Grandpa usher at church and others can use their musical gifts in worship. We all have different gifts, interests, and abilities. Let’s help our kids find their passion and purpose.
- How can I help you achieve that? Kids absolutely can make a difference, but admittedly they need some assistance. Brainstorm with them, help them set up a website, walk them through a legal process if necessary. Unless their idea is within walking or biking distance, you’ll need to drive them someplace to help them achieve their dream. You might offer to provide seed money for a project. And when people suggest maybe they are too young? Don’t fight their battles for them. Instead, give them the skills to stand up for themselves.
How have you encouraged your children to serve and participate in their community and church? I’d love to hear!
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. When one of her kiddos was talking about injustices, she asked, “Are you just going to complain or do something about it?”