#TalkJustice

Olympic Spirit!

I love the Olympics!

This year the Olympic Refugee Team warms my heart.

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We celebrated the Olympic spirit with a Talk Justice playgroup!

My friend Janyre read us Can You Say Peace by Karen Katz.

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The kids painted Olympic rings and completed an obstacle course. My parents prepared Olympic gold medals for all our participants.

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We were able to support Kids’ Food Basket by decorating one hundred lunch sacks, Holland Rescue Mission with a trunk load of clothing, and $31.00 to The Flint Water Fund. As hard as it is to believe, people in the state Michigan are still struggling to have clean water. It’s a great reminder that when initial news stories die down, there are still people living in that reality.

What is your favorite Olympic sport?

Talk Justice July Edition

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Refugees: Who loves the Olympics? We sure do! Make sure to keep your eye out for the Refugee Olympic Team. Ten athletes from Sudan, Ethiopia, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be competing to shed a light on the refugee crisis. Click the link above to watch a short video.

Access to Education: Girls learning to code in Afghanistan! What do you think?

Hunger: To combat food waste Walmart announced it will sell ‘damaged’ fruit at a reduced price. Whole Foods has also offered this to some retailer. Walmart recently estimated that U.S. consumers throw away $29 billion worth of edible food each year. Would you eat fruits and vegetable that did not look perfect, but were still healthy?

Sustainability: One the topic of food waste- a great infographic to break it down and give ideas for making a difference. What can your family implement?

Access to Education: Read this article and talk about opportunity gap with your kids.

Purpose Hotel: What does your family think of this idea?

Homelessness: Look at the photos of the finalists in the Through Our Eyes photography project, giving voice to the homeless through the lens of a camera. What surprised you?

Living Wage: Check out this infographic about affordable housing on minimum wage.

Kindness: The construction worker who hides a life-size Waldo for children at a nearby hospital to spot each day.

teacherEducation: #iwishmyteacherknew started as a project in Kyle Swartz’s third grade classroom. Her book by the same title just released and it’s beautiful encouragement, gives voice to our children and hope to all of us to support students and our teachers.

 

 

 

 

What are you all talking about this July? 

Kids Talk Justice

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The kids took their 1st night bags for Hope Pkgs very seriously! My favorite part of this playgroup was how so many kids wanted to take time to show me everything they chose for their bags. Their items were carefully chosen and packed. They understood how special the items inside would be for kids in foster care.

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We celebrated kids with bubbles, glitter play dough and we made fabric heart bookmarks to remember to pray for kids in foster care. After we read On the Night You Were Born, the kids also had some parachute and sidewalk chalk fun!

HPBlog3Learn more about the work of Hope Pkgs at their website. Lisa Hoeve and her team are doing amazing work and gaining more and more traction everyday to support kids, organizations and families within the foster care system. You can also follow Hope Pkgs on Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t forget our last summer playgroup coming Monday Evening, August 8 from 6:30- 7:30 pm at Kollen Park. We are going to celebrate the world coming together for the Olympics with three local service projects. We will be supporting Holland Rescue Mission with clothing donations, decorating lunch bags for Kids Food Basket, and donating dollars to The Flint Water Fund. There will also be an epic Olympic obstacle course!

#TalkJustice Together June Edition

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Ten ideas to get your family talking about justice together!

Caring for Others: How to Teach Your Child to be an “Includer”

Refugees: Displaced people now surpass 60 million. One in every 113 people have been driven from their home due to violence, persecution, or human rights violations. What do your kids think of that number? Where should those families go?

Girls: #LeanInTogether is a new initiative to encourage leadership in girls. When women support one another great things happen.

Restorative Justice: Jail for many is not as simple as it seems. There is often more to the story.

Education: Talk to your kids about why early childhood education is so important. The first 1,000 days are critical to development.

Battling Entitlement: The story behind the viral photo of the West Point Graduate. Read it with your kids.

Race: Why the ‘Roots’ Remake is Important. It’s a story about extreme pain and beautiful resistance. Ask your kids what they think they can learn from history.

Human Trafficking: International Justice Mission (IJM) is hosting Freedom Sunday, September 25, 2016. Involve your church with these free resources.

Refugees: To be a refugee is to make impossible choices, a first-person perspective from OXFam.

Climate Change: Five amazing inventions for a sustainable future. What could you invent?

What did your family talk about? 

 

Kids are Talking Justice!

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On Monday evening we celebrated ACTS! A local ministry led by Jaime Blom who opens her home to kids of the Westcore neighborhood for meals, art, and a giant doses of love. This is the beautiful artwork they brought along to share.

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We read the story The Dot about how we all have something beautiful to offer.

The kids made watercolor hearts to remember to love each other.

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They also completed a collaborative art project by making a home. The homes were put all together by my friend Janyre. Then we gave the project to ACTS so they can remember it takes a village of love and that we care about them.

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Next up: This coming Monday, June 27 at Kollen Park from 6:30-7:30. We will supporting Hope Pkgs which provides first night bags to kids in foster care. We hope to see you there!

TJ Hope Pkgs

#TalkJustice Together May Edition

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Happy May! I have a son turning nine years old this month. My daughter and I completed three days of sixth grade camp- I had sore legs and a happy heart. Our niece will graduate high school in Northwest Iowa. School will continue on until June 14- so we have to be a little patient yet for summer break…

Ready to talk about justice with your family?

Education: Big kids inspiring little ones. There is something so beautiful in the simplicity of this story.

Homelessness: An innovative idea to help those that are homeless. The Sleepbus. What does your family think?

Hunger: A Fresh Food Grocery Bus for areas where there is no access to healthy choices.

Refugees: What was inside the first ever care package? Can you send hope as a family?

Refugees: Short, but powerful video about the evolution of American Public Opinion toward refugees. Watch with your family- has much changed?

Clean Water: Take a home water audit quiz with your family! Then learn some new tips for conserving water.

Innovation: Plastic turned into 3D printer ink. What could you dream up?

Education: Girl coders from Mumbai making a difference with technology.

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Summer Fun! Virtual Kindness Summer Camp! Sign up for six-weeks of amazing ideas to fill your summer with kindness opportunities and ideas from five writers, including us, About Proximity.

Learn about our Summer 2016 #TalkJustice Events in Holland, Michigan supporting ACTS, Hope Pkgs, Kids’ Food Basket, Holland Rescue Mission, and The Flint Water Fund.

What does May bring for you? What articles did your family explore? 

 

 

 

Summer 2016 Talk Justice Events

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Let’s make a difference together this summer! I’m so excited to invite you all to our Summer 2016 #TalkJustice Events. We very much hope to see you there!

Join our Facebook Event Page to get updates and ask questions.

TJ ACTS

Acts Holland is a family. A place for kids to be embraced, equipped, and empowered.

We will be supporting Jaime Blom and Acts this summer! Last year, they shared their thoughtful art with us and this year we get to give back to them! Follow their work on Facebook here.

Read a book, create art, and play. Give back by bringing: List coming soon!

 

TJ Hope Pkgs

Hope Pkgs is a community based ministry that provides first night bags to kids entering the foster care system. There are approximately 220- 350 kids in foster care in Ottawa County at any given time. These bags provide hope, comfort and meet tangible needs.

We will be supporting Lisa Hoeve and Hope Pkgs this summer! Follow the work of Hope Pkgs on Facebook.

Every child is so special! We can’t wait to celebrate kids by sharing a story, making a fabric prayer bookmark, playing with parachutes, celebration play doh and more. Your family can give back by bringing a first night bag to donate, or joining with another family to put together a bag to bring.

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#TalkJustice Olympics!

Event 1: Decorating Lunch Bags for Kids Food Basket.

Event 2: Holland Rescue Mission Clothing Drive- Donate your used clothing to be sold in the Rescue Mission Thrift Store. Did you know you can also donate clothing that can’t be reused to wear? They also recycle textiles and receive the profits.

Event 3: Bring a dollar to support the Flint Water Fund distributed by United Way.

We’ll be sharing a story about peace, participating in an Olympic obstacle course, making olympic ring pictures and having an Olympic flag scavenger hunt. Give back through our three featured events and receive your service medal.

 

We hope to see you at Kollen Park this summer! Let’s make a difference and serve locally!

Wondering what Talk Justice Events are like? Look at pictures of our past events here.

All ages are welcome! We love it when older children help at stations too.

I’d love to answer any of your questions! aboutproximity@gmail.com

 

#TalkJustice April Edition

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Happy April! Spring! We love its arrival in Michigan.

#TalkJustice with your family this month. Here are some great resources and discussion starters to use.

 

Spring Cleaning: Don’t forget that your donations to Goodwill or other non-profits create jobs! April 2, Uber and Goodwill partnered in some cities to pick up donations. What other organizations would you love to see work together?  

Mental Health: The public library often offers a haven to homeless populations. Learn how the San Francisco Public Library is offering mental health services on-site.

Prison System: A jail where inmates and abandoned animals find a second-chance. I bet kids would have some wonderful insights after looking at the photographs.

Refugees: Greek residents of the island of Lesbos are being recognized for their efforts to help refugees. I love their straight forward quotes on the issue. “we are monsters if we don’t do this– why should we be given a prize for being human beings?”

Disability: From Christianity Today how her son’s autism changed one Mom’s church. How can we extend welcome?

Hunger: Food goes to waste while people are hungry. Some countries are trying to change that. What do you think?

Thinking outside the box: A laundromat owner washed the clothing and bedding of families at a homeless shelter during Easter week. A small gift that saved money, time, and offered dignity to families.

Sports and Development: Read about how sports can be a powerful development tool. Ask your kids what they have learned on sports teams or playing games with friends. I am looking forward to the world coming together for the Olympics this summer.

Global Education: Preschool teacher Davinia James raises money for Girl Rising and global education by collecting pennies. Even the smallest offering can make a huge difference!

Earth Day, April 22, 2016: In honor of Earth Day pick a short movie from the Story of Stuff to watch with your family.

Finally, I am so excited to reveal some great #TalkJustice events coming this summer. Check back next week to see how we can partner together to make a difference!

What did your family talk about? 

#TalkJustice March Edition

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March! The month of the long goodbye to winter.

While you are waiting for spring to arrive #TalkJustice together!

March Madness: Fill out a charity bracket with your family! Win up to 100,000 for the charity of your choice. Such a fun idea!
12482154935_ca10226573_zShelterbox: Learn about ShelterBox together. What started out as a Rotary Project for disaster relief in England has expanded globally. Each ShelterBox includes a relief tent, thermal blankets, groundsheet, water storage and purification equipment, solar lamps, cooking utensils, a basic toolkit, mosquito nets, and a children’s activity pack.

@ShelterBox, Photographer: Rebecca Novell

 

Sacrifice: Read this article about a couple who foregoes their dream boat to pay for the college tuition of an entire kindergarten class. Talk about the difference between needs and a wants. What could your family sacrifice that might make a difference to someone else?

Dignity: A soup kitchen disguised like a restaurant offers dignity to the homeless in Kansas City. Read the article and talk about how they are building community, treating others with dignity, and offering hope.

Clean Water: 10 things women and girls could be doing instead of collecting clean water from ONE.

Breaking Down Myths: SNAP benefits are not always enough to keep families in need fed. 1/3 of families using SNAP still have to visit food pantries to bridge gaps. Talk about hunger and stereotypes to accepting assistance.

Food Waste: Sign a pledge as a family to curb food waste with Feeding America.

Pray for refugees: A new prayer is posted everyday.

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What’s new in your corner of the world?

 

 

 

#TalkJustice Election

 

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How do we #TalkJustice with our kids during this election year?

These are the things I want my kids to know and understand.

Voting. I remember walking into the voting booths of my small town and helping slide the heavy curtain shut. Voting is important. The definition of suffrage is the right to vote in political elections. Suffrage sounds an awful lot like the word suffer. People suffered to ensure our right to be heard. When you cast your vote take your kids along.

Respect. No one wants to feel stupid for their opinions. If we disagree with one another, and we will, how can we engage in love? Can we disagree and still respect one another? Yes, conflict is uncomfortable, no one really loves it, but there are ways to approach disagreement in love.

No one is perfect. We are not perfect people. Our political candidates will not be either. They have made past mistakes. They will make future mistakes. No one person can please everyone in the country. No one can change everything for the better.

Think for yourself. Maybe you identify with Republicans or Democrats, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think for yourself too. Read from various news sources. Be an independent thinker. Consider both points of view.

Kindness is still important. I can’t imagine a Jesus who steamrolled others to get to the top. He became nothing, that we might have life. Name calling. Exclusion. Rudeness. Demeaning the work of others. We teach our children not to do it, nor should we for any reason.

Standing in the Gap. In seventh grade social studies we are currently learning about the beginning of our nation and the constitution. The argument concerning the amount the government should be involved in our lives started hundreds of years ago. There are no easy answers, but if a safety net of assistance is removed or lessened, someone needs to stand in the gap. I would love that to be the church. Statistics show that 5% of adults in the United States tithe. This is an article from Relevant What Would Happen if the Church Tithed

Open Hands. I try to remember that Jesus met others with open hands. He didn’t protect himself, even from death. I want to open my hands like Jesus did. He didn’t judge, build walls, or only pick privileged and powerful. He denied convention and associated with those that were considered sinners.

The Fear of Different. There is a certain candidate in this election that has not been kind to a majority of the American people. Numerous times people have said they support him because, he says what everything is thinking, but just doesn’t say. If this is the truth, we need to be honest that there is underlying fear and hatred for what is different. I work at, and my kids attend a diverse school. Most of our communities are diverse and our schools reflect this. Ethnically. Religiously. Socio-economically. When we talk about slavery, civil-rights and suffrage, the kids are surprised and saddened. They don’t necessarily understand a world where these things occurred. They are our example right now. Different can coexist. Different does not lessen our beliefs. Different does not threaten our well-being.

Refining. When Kris was in seminary we job shared. Being married and working together is a careful balance. We did not always agree. Honestly, we argued a fair amount. We would lay it all out and then construct our best ideas back together. What we ended up with was always so much better than what we could have came up with individually. We need leaders that will listen to one another. We need leaders that will work together. We need leaders that are humble enough to be refined by others.

Honesty. There are Christians that are Republican. There are Christians that are Democrats. This stuff is not easy. Look at world history. We have not been kind to one another whether publicly or in our heads. I work with kids all day. Our kids hear us. They repeat what we say. They see your memes. Hear your laughter. They are fiercely loyal. What do you want them to hear?

Pray. That we might all have courage and be kind.

What do you most want your kids to know this year?