THE BLOG
11/19/2012 12:10 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2013

Sparking Compassion and Inspiring Service in Our Youth

It's a special effervescent experience being around kids. You know that warm feeling that makes you smile wider and feel more carefree.

Imagine that multiplied 500 times -- that's what I'm feeling now. I was recently invited to present Go Inspire Go's GIG SPARK (Lesson on Compassion) to 500 kids (kindergarten to fifth grade) at Sun Valley Elementary School in San Rafael, Calif. What an honor!

Photos: Toan Lam

The theme: Community Heroes. I've been invited to speak in front of prestigious crowds of adults, but never this many children. I'm proficient in public speaking, but worried if the presentation Kala Shah, a mother of a Sun Valley student, and I put together would hold the attention of 500 little people for 30 minutes. Would they pay attention? Would they get our message? Would they take action?

Words can't describe the tingles, endorphins and excitement -- the chills -- that I felt during that presentation -- inspiring the children to "Use their POWER to help others."

It is one of my most memorable experiences as a journalist, public speaker and inspirator.

We created a video to share the experience in hopes of inspiring you to share this blog with at least one young person in your life and perhaps spark your own GIG Spark:

During the presentation, I showed them two video examples. The first video we showcased was a GIG original feature (of regular everyday heroes). This video exemplifies GIG's goal: to inspire viewers to discover, see and share inspiring stories, then to use their power to help others. Naturally, we shared Part 3 of then kindergartener, Phoebe Russell's story of how she inspired her community to enable the San Francisco Food Bank to dole out more than 150,000 meals. It all started with 5-year-old Phoebe's letter writing campaign to collect aluminum cans to help feed the hungry in her community:

The second video featured a GIG Spark example. Mini Rasekhy, 14, wanted to inspire smiles, so she and her mother took to the streets and used her voice to spread cheer:

I'm impressed with Julie Harris, Sun Valley's principal, parents like Kala Shah and the faculty and staff at this special school that goes beyond teaching the basics of arithmetic, science, literature, etc. They inspire good citizens with the three Rs: Respect, Responsibility and Ready to Learn.

Sun Valley Principal Julie Harris getting students ready for the assembly with 3 Rs

I still wonder how this presentation will resonate within them in the future. As my university lit professor, Carolyn Weber would say, "I am shooting arrows out into the world, I wonder where they will land."

This experience taught me a lot about children. I learned never to underestimate the potential and capacity of a young mind to grasp concepts of compassion and action. I learned that if you have a positive message that inspires goodness, you can captivate the audience of any age.

I am honored and amazed that we captured their attention for 30 minutes!

I can't wait to see how this presentation will resonate with them through their GIG SPARKS and actions of compassion that they're learning through this experience.

Many parents tell me they want their child to get civically engaged, but don't know how. Likewise, many of my students tell me they want to do better for their community, but don't know how. Well, GIG SPARK is your answer. Join us in making a video on this LESSON ON COMPASSION.

I believe kids are naturally in tune with kindness, giving and service. Wouldn't it be great if we adults paused right this minute and channel our inner-child and do one kind thing for another person?

Kala Shah, Toan Lam, Erin Sitt, Akina Chargaulaf

As Maya Angelou said, "If you know better, you do better." Now you know, please help our youth do better.

What can YOU do?!

Take Action:

1. Many adults tell me they want to inspire the spirit of service in their children, but don't know how. Here is the answer. Show our presentation to at least one young person in your life and send us your GIG SPARK: info@goinspirego.com

2. This presentation inspired Kala Shah to create a new "Community Heroes Club" to brainstorm service projects. She will share the GIG SPARKS that are ignited from the club via GIG. Make it your gig to start a Community Heroes club and let us know about it.

3. Be kind to one another. Let us know what kind things you're experiencing via our social networks: Twitter and Facebook.

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