Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

how kids can give back

Zach and Zephyr have been hiking and raising money to help a reforestation project. (Family photo used with permission)

Help your kids give back to their community or the world

Ask the Pediatrician: Tips for helping kids make a difference.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put all of us, by that I mean the entire world, through the ringer. It has been difficult, but we also have gained some new insights and wisdom. One of the take-home lessons is how interconnected we are.

Our actions impact not only ourselves but our communities. Kids are aware of this and want to talk about ways to help and get involved. Volunteering, donating, advocacy and small acts of kindness are all things that make a difference and can be done at any time of the year.

Let’s meet some cool kids who have taken initiative and done awesome things this summer to give back:

Zach and Zephyr, above, are dynamic elementary school students with a passion for the environment. When they learned about a program to help farmers reforest land, they decided to get involved. They made a commitment to hike 100 miles this summer as part of a fundraising effort for reforestation. These two have been hiking and fund raising through their web page all summer long.

Two middle school neighbors I know were worried that our community members experiencing homelessness didn’t have face masks to help protect them against COVID-19. They teamed up to raise money through multiple bake sales, and then purchased face masks and donated them to be included with food distribution.

My daughter and three of her friends from elementary school raised money with a lemonade stand for a direct donation to the food bank.

It is exciting to see children realize that they can make a positive difference in the world.


kids give back

How kids can give back: How do you start?

Start the conversation: Start the conversation about the needs in your community. Age-appropriate conversations about the challenges people or the environment face can help kids make sense of what they are seeing and hearing. Be prepared to get some challenging questions but know you don’t have to have all the answers or solve the problems.

Let your child pick a cause: This is empowering. It’s a lot more meaningful and exciting to work on something that you have a passion for. This is a great topic for family discussion and action. Most likely you will find that your children do have causes and passions they are interested in. This is a great opportunity to listen to them and help them find a way to get involved.

Take that passion and find out how to best help: Once you and your child decide what your passion is, learn what is needed. In order to make the biggest impact think about what the cause really needs and focus on that. If you’re interested in supporting an existing charity, talk with them about what would be the most helpful. Is it volunteer time? Is it fund raising? Is it advocacy? Consider what activities and level of help fit best with your lives and how long you will do it for.

Go ahead with giving back: Giving back can be volunteering at an afternoon event or hiking 100 miles for forest reforestation. It’s not a competition, it’s a learning experience. Giving back helps better ourselves and our communities, whatever that looks like for your family.

Thanks to those who keep those great questions coming. (Got a question for Dr. Block? Send it to


More from Dr. Block and Kaiser Permanente:

What to expect from your kids’ sports physicals

Keeping screen time under control during summer and the school year

What to know about the HPV vaccine and your kids


About the Author

Susanna Block

Dr. Susanna Block, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente in Seattle and lives with her family in Queen Anne.