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Positive Outreach
By Katie Allen Berlandi

How a Child Learns to Help Others

While my children were taking out the garbage the other evening, I asked them what they thought I should blog about. Without a moment’s hesitation, my 4 1/2-year-old son declared, “Me!

This is such a terrific age, one filled with expansive wonder and curiosity (today he asked, “How do we talk?”), uninhibited creativity (eating his toast into the shape of a seahorse) and self-focused energy. I had to smile at his response. It nailed his developmental age but also reminded me of the beauty of how he will evolve from this stage to one where the world around him is something he will contribute to and not just be the center of (at least this is my great hope!).

Many factors will help him grow into a person who is open to contributing to his world. His community of family and friends, both inside and outside of our town and church, show him ways to reach out and engage with others.

They show him how to volunteer for the local youth soccer program by coaching for his team. They show him how to take care of our Earth by being part of the town’s annual springtime roadside cleanup. They show him how to make the world a bit brighter by planting bulbs around our church property.

They also show him how to work together to complete a project with ease and enjoyment. Recently he’s watched our church’s youth group plan and organize a dance party to benefit Guideposts for Kids Comfort Kits. The dance party will take place on Friday, May 31 (my Grandfather Peale’s birthday!), at Christ Church on Quaker Hill in Pawling, New York.

The members of our church’s youth group have taken the reins on this project. They feel wholly invested in the fun that will be had that evening, and even more, in raising funds that will go toward providing Comfort Kits to children in hospitals and other pediatric settings around the United States. Keep an eye out for photos of the dance party on the Guideposts for Kids Comfort Kit Facebook page.

I know the evening will be a terrific success. Kids will have a ball learning new dances and enjoying yummy food. Prizes will be given and everyone will have the chance to learn about how Comfort Kits make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of sick and injured children each year. How cool that every kid at the dance will be playing a part in this Guideposts Outreach program!

I feel so fortunate that my 4 1/2-year-old son has so many opportunities to see outreach in action. He still has a few years before he himself takes on an outreach project and that’s just fine. They never stay little long enough. I am just excited to watch him at the dance party on May 31 joyfully dancing and hoping the world is watching. 

Katheryn (Katie) Allen Berlandi is the seventh of Guideposts cofounders Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Ruth Stafford Peale’s eight grandchildren. She is a clinical social worker with a private practice focusing on children, adolescents and families, and a consultant for Guideposts and the Guideposts Foundation. Katie lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, two daughters and son.