Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Padawan Parenting: A Jedi Lives to Serve

Jay Krebs, a teacher (Rogue 7 at StarWarsInTheClassroom.com), mom and blogger for one of my favourite Star Wars podcast/blog fan-sites Coffee With Kenobi, offered to write a guest piece on how she ties together Star Wars fandom and volunteerism with her kids. I loved the idea so much it begins a new series: Padawan Parenting! Look for more articles in the future. -Chris

We all know how incredibly precious time spent together with our younglings can be, and for parents like me who have older kids (a tween and a young teen); we know those sands of time fall faster than stars streaking by in hyperspace.

One of the ways I have found to be a win-win in terms of time spent with my kids is through volunteering. More specifically, Star Wars-style volunteering!

My love for Star Wars has inspired and affected my life in so many diverse ways, but one of the most surprising ways has been by helping me teach my children about the importance of service to others.

I am the proud Mom of two boys, now 12 and 14. Needless to say, they were raised on Star Wars. My Star Wars moniker has always been MO2YP – MomOf2YoungPadawans. So, it’s pretty safe to assume that Star Wars has permeated pretty much every aspect of their lives in one way or another.

Talent Show for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - 2008
I am also a high school teacher entering into my 22nd year of teaching. As my kids grew, they were often part of the various service activities in which my students and I were involved. One year, we were part of a school-wide talent show, fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  My niece (who was a freshman at the time), and I performed “The Saga Begins” by “Weird Al” Yankovic. We were in full Jedi garb; myself as Qui-Gon and my niece as Obi-Wan. My two boys, who were then 7 and 5 at the time, were dressed as Jedi “stage hands” and helped with the performance.

There have been several other service activities in which my boys have played a part. It’s just always been something we’ve done.  

Library Star Wars Party 2014
Most recently, last weekend my 12-year-old son and I volunteered at a “Star Wars Party” that a local library was sponsoring.  I happened to see an article in our newspaper about it, and called the library to help. I was just going to do it myself, dressed as Queen Amidala, but when I told my son about it he said “can I dress as Boba Fett? I’d love to come and help!” Gee, who am I to say “no” to a kid who wants to volunteer his time, away from the TV and/or video games?!

Why volunteer? Some of the major benefits are:
  • It brings you closer together as a family!  By strengthening values, time spent together and the ability to connect with each other and with the greater world.
  • It helps kids’ self-esteem: By helping others, kids feel good about themselves. It creates a sense of empathy and compassion for others as well.
  • It builds future skills: kids who volunteer tend to do better in school, are less likely to involve themselves in risky behavior, and build a work ethic that will help them in whatever career field they choose later in life
  • It makes kids thankful: Sometimes seeing or knowing what others DON’T have is the best way to teach kids about being thankful for what they have.
  • It’s a lot of FUN!!

A few ideas, depending on your Padawan's ages and abilities:

  • Star Wars Reads Day at your local library: You and your kids could help out with a variety of activities, read Star Wars books to younger kids, or cosplay and get lots of pictures taken (my personal favorite – I’m a sucker for dressing up!). Like I said, just call them up. Sometimes, you (the adult) may have to fill out an official volunteer form and be approved beforehand, so be sure to plan ahead for that one.

Students making blankets
  • Making fleece tie-blankets: My kids have made those double-layer tie blankets with Star Wars fleece, and have donated them to various organizations. It’s easy to do with supervision, even for young Padawans. If you can use a pair of scissors and can tie a knot, you can make a blanket!
My favorite organization is our local chapter of Project Linus. If you ask around, you might even to be able to get some fleece donated to you.

  • Make Star Wars-themed cookies for an event: This one could fit for a variety of organizations…
Local Red Cross Blood Drive – set up a table and give cookies to blood donors for their after-donation treat.
Delicious, they are!
Community charity fundraising event – This could be anything from a table set up for runners at the end of a race (yes, runners do eat cookies after a race sometimes…trust me, I’m one of them!  For a resource to find races near you, try www.runningintheusa.com or www.active.com/running for a start)...to helping out with a donation drive like Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

  • Donate gently-used Star Wars toys, books, Lego sets, clothing: … And hand-deliver them to places like your local Children’s Services Office, Women’s Shelters, etc. 
  • Get creative! Think about your own interests, your child’s, the time you have to spend, etc. It doesn’t have to cost money, either!

Of course, Star Wars-style volunteerism doesn’t have to end just because kids grow up! The 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion immediately come to mind. These organizations do an amazing job of giving back to their communities!

Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions you may have about this blog, resources, ideas, etc.

I hope you have found some helpful and inspiring ideas for you and the children in your life! May the Force Be With You!

Jay (MO2YP)
e-mail: jayk@coffeewithkenobi.com 
Follow me on Twitter: @JoyceKrebs

Some great ideas for Star Wars baking and crafts...


Got a comment? Something you'd like Star Wars Kidscast to discuss? What's your favourite part about Star Wars? Comments welcome, but scum & villainy is not appreciated.

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