Children’s Hope Residential Services (CHRS) provides abused and neglected children an opportunity to reconnect with the communities in which they live and provides these children the chance to learn about their own and other cultures. In many ways, the boys and girls who graduate from CRHS leave the program with more cultural sensitivity and ability to empathize with their peers than children of the same age that did not enter Children’s Hope Residential Services. The children at CHRS learn that there are multiple worldviews and to appreciate the nuance of each culture’s experiences, traditions and values. How CHRS children learn these valuable lessons is a matter of multiple activities and exposures, including field trips, community service and humanities discussions.
Children’s Hope Residential Services provides children with field trips to points of cultural interest including historical sites, churches, museums, parks and more. Each field trip is accompanied with discussions before the visit about appropriate behaviors at the venue, what the children may see as well as the things they expect or believe. Following each visit, another discussion takes place. Children get to talk about how their beliefs were confirmed or negated, new things they learned and impressions they had about the experience. Staff will ask pointed questions to help lead children to important features of the experience and to help elicit critical thinking.
Community service proceeds very similarly to field trips with one important caveat: children learn that they are capable of being agents of change. That is a powerful lesson for the children that come to Children’s Hope as they are used to being on the receiving end of assistance. They learn that they do not have to view themselves as passive, as takers, or as victims of circumstance. Instead, they see that they can make changes and create a better world. They learn that they have something positive to give back to the community. They also learn that there are other people in the world that are worse off than themselves.
In addition to the above hands-on experiences of field-trips and community service, Children’s Hope Residential Services offers children humanities discussions each Saturday and Sunday. These discussions begin with some thoughtful questions for children followed by the reading of a passage about an influential historical figure’s contribution to society. Each weekend, the discussion focusses on a different culture and topics have included people such as Malala Yousafsai, Sandy Kofax and Harriet Tubman. Following the reading, children discuss the value of the individual’s contribution and think about what they would have done if they were in that individual’s shoes.
Through field trips, community service and humanities discussions, CHRS kids are developing a cultural sensitivity and empathy skills that go beyond that of their contemporary peers. They are learning to understand different worldviews and values, sympathize with others’ plights, see themselves as agents of change and imagine the value of others’ contributions to society. They are learning critical thinking and forethought. They are learning to become leaders of the future.