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The impact of giving

Young philanthropists lead the way to a bright future

The result of philanthropic efforts by dozens of St. Albert children proves how a small act of selflessness can make a big difference.

A couple of weekends ago, kids across the city joined 2,000 budding business tycoons province-wide for Lemonade Stand Day, donning aprons, squeezing lemons and setting up shop in their neighbourhoods to help raise money for the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

The wrap-up party for the event Sunday included a wonderful announcement: the children who ran the 36 stands in St. Albert had helped to raise more than a quarter of a million dollars in the sixth year of this initiative that saw a record 561 stands set up over the course of the day. The money raised will buy five Giraffe CareStation Omnibeds for the Stollery NICUs. Two of them will go to the new Stollery NICU at the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert, which is slated to open this fall, and three for the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Monita Chapman, owner of Simply Supper and chair of Lemonade Stand Day, told the Gazette the event is about more than raising money – it's also about building a community. Chapman said about 75 per cent of the kids who participate in Lemonade Stand Day tell her their favourite part is when their neighbours came to visit. The day, she said, is about "learning how to talk to customers, running a little business, becoming a philanthropist, but also spending time with all of your friends and family.”

Those are lessons worth learning by any of us, and especially by our children. Research shows that while philanthropy is not usually a word we associate with children, getting youngsters involved in giving has positive lasting effects for them, their families and society. The younger the child is when the discussion begins about giving, the more it becomes a matter of practice and habit that continues into adulthood, according to Marilyn Price Mitchell. The American psychologist, author, columnist and youth development expert has said children who perform acts of kindness experience increased wellbeing, popularity and acceptance among peers. This, in turn, leads to better classroom behaviour and higher academic achievement.

A study released in November 2018 from the U.S. organization Fidelity Charitable showed children who grow up in families with strong giving traditions are more likely to engage in charitable activities as adults. One of the key findings of the study was that 48 per cent of people who experienced strong giving traditions during their childhood consider themselves a very happy person today, compared to 33 per cent who did not grow up with strong giving traditions. And 38 per cent of survey participants who grew up with strong giving traditions said their parents inspire their giving habits.

Lemonade Stand Day is just one of the many ways St. Albertans embrace community and encourage our young people to grow to be happy, giving members of our society. With these youngsters amongst us, the future looks bright indeed.