There is a great deal of suffering in our world. Sadly this something our children are accustomed to; they are growing up exposed to images of natural and man –made disasters alike, but it is of the utmost importance that we do not allow them to accept this as the norm. It is vital that we do not allow our children to believe that they are powerless in the face of disaster, and that these events are happening in a world separate to theirs.
Empowering children with the mindset that ‘we can help, we can make a difference’ is therefore a priority at St Anthony’s School for Girls. We do this by placing a great deal of emphasis on our values of caring, giving and kindness.
I firmly believe that this philosophy should be a focus for all .It is not a case of holding lessons in in empathy, or teaching about charity, but ensuring that these principles are embedded in the education the children receive. This allows children to learn about these principles directly, but also to subconsciously soak up the information. Our commitment to this is demonstrated by our school mission statement: Actions speak louder than words.
Never has this been more pertinent than now with so many vulnerable and struggling groups within our communities. The girls are pro-active in fund raising and rallying together to support projects such as Harvest Food Appeal, the Glassdoor Project, Mary’s Meals and Cafod initiatives. The girls talk with pride about their positive approach to those in need and how satisfying it is to be able to make a difference. ‘Spending time helping is so rewarding, ‘commented many of our girls.
For children to fully grasp the importance of principles such as giving and charity, it is important that they also possess the necessary contextual knowledge. By this I mean an understanding of the world outside their immediate surroundings. It is important for children to be aware that there are people in less developed countries – and for that matter in their own country-who have far less than they do. The girls at St Anthony’s are among those who have an awareness of the vast divide between those who have and those who need our help.
There is, of course, a balance to be found between educating children about the world they are living in and exposing them to harrowing, disturbing and upsetting information. This is a balance we take seriously at St Anthony’s and believe we have got it right.
The girls have many opportunities to be in service to each other, both in school and outside. Our focus will reap its reward when our girls play their parts in their communities as confident pro-active adults.