Giving Back: Motivating Students Through a Sense of Purpose

By Troy Hickerson, Cofounder, UNICEF Kid Power

What do kids have an abundance of? Energy! Kids can’t hold jobs or earn much money, but what they can do is move, and have a sense of agency over many of their actions. What if we could harness that energy somehow? We call that Kid Power.

Years ago, when we were designing the UNICEF Kid Power platform, we did some third-party research in conjunction with the Games Institute in Santa Barbara and the University of Arizona. They found that when we connect a deep sense of purpose to an outcome (something kids can get excited about), kids are 55% more active in terms of working toward that outcome. Giving kids purpose by getting them actively doing good remains the core principle of UNICEF Kid Power today.

We’ve all had children in our lives who frequently ask the “Why?” question. Kids ask because they’re compelled to find an answer, a reason, a purpose behind what they’re experiencing or what they’re supposed to be doing. Instilling a sense of purpose in kids is the key to motivating them. When that purpose is deep and meaningful (such as giving back to others), kids feel a stronger sense of classroom community and become even more motivated.

What if you could tap into that deep sense of purpose to get kids more active in boosting their own literacy skills, social-emotional learning competencies, or physical activity? You can leverage UNICEF Kid Power to do exactly that (like promoting resilience, helping to cope with change, addressing sometimes-difficult-to-discuss social justice topics, and more) while also empowering students to give back to children who need life-saving support in our communities.

Through the partnership between Learning A-Z and UNICEF Kid Power, students who use Raz-Plus, Raz-Kids, Headsprout, Science A-Z, Vocabulary A-Z, and Writing A-Z can now convert the digital stars they earn into virtual coins they can redeem to provide meals for local families in need.

Schools can sign up at UNICEF Kid Power, a program of UNICEF USA, a free interactive video platform with a mission to inspire an entire generation of children to grow up believing that they have the power to save lives by connecting their everyday activity with real-world impact. As children interact with physical activity and social-emotional learning videos on the UNICEF Kid Power platform, they unlock critical support that UNICEF and its partners distribute to children who need extra help in our global and local communities.

As we go to publication, more than ONE MILLION STARS have already been donated! That’s more than 500 meals! Keep going, kids!

By engaging your whole classroom in giving back through the Learning A-Z and UNICEF Kid Power platforms, you can empower your students to have agency over their own learning, and keep them motivated to learn through a deep, meaningful sense of purpose and community. You’ll also have the best answer to all those “Why?” questions: “Because together, we can provide life-saving help to children who need it!”

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