While some may think shielding children from reality is the best way to deal with tragedy in the world, others think that age appropriate explanations and discourse is the way to go. Our family chooses the latter.

“Each year during the winter holidays, Amnesty International asks friends and members to send messages of support to prisoners and human rights defenders around the world. Holidays can mean little to those who fear they've been forgotten by the world. A simple greeting card, however, can bring renewed hope,” (Amnesty International).

What we do to work this into our holiday season is to invite other kids and their parents to come one afternoon on or around  December 10th (International Human Rights Day). I supply paper, pens, crayons, and have the pre-writers draw. The older kids write a brief message to whomever we’ve selected to write. Usually I print out the stories of the prisoners or the organizations working with them. I let the older children read through them and translate a bit for the younger ones.  For my three year old I tell her that these people are ‘sad’ and can’t be with their families right now so we are writing to cheer them up. My kids LOVE cheering up everyone and anyone.  They also love geography and we place a map on the big table so they can see where these letters will go.

It takes only an afternoon in December to make a difference in someone’s life and the activity of writing to prisoners and the organizations that support them supplies the day with many teachable moments. In many schools across the nation both public and private, teachers have incorporated letter writing as an option in lessons.

Sometimes we have community members that can’t make the date but want to participate. They usually donate money for postage or donate stamps or cards.  It’s been a great way to stay connected to the world at large and to be doing what the season compels us to do: think with our hearts and to leave room in our lives for hope and joy.

Care to join us? If you live in Plumas County, California, stop on by the house on December 10th. If not organize your own:
http://www.amnestyusa.org/individuals-at-risk/holiday-card-action/page.d...
There’s also actions regarding children’s rights that are often of interest to other children:
http://www.amnestyusa.org/children/page.do?id=1011016
If after the experience you find yourself still enthusiastic:
http://www.amnestyusa.org/individuals-at-risk/global-write-a-thon/page.d...