What if spiritual values aren't beliefs we follow, but coping capabilities we learn?
Ta-da! They are, according to Spirituality for Kids (SFK), an international program that provides free classes to help empower children to manage life's challenges.
Founded in 2001, SFK was established to create global change by giving children the understanding that all possibilities are within — their choices can and do influence the world around them. SFK provides kids with an awareness of themselves, of others and of the interconnectedness of all things, so that they can grow up to be caring, responsible citizens of the world. Religion not included (though not precluded).
SFK students participate in activities, artwork, dialogue, games and music, all designed to teach to four cores of personal strength:
1) social competence (caring for, sharing with and tolerance of others);
2) problem-solving (cause-and-effect, consequences);
3) self-esteem and sense of autonomy (upping happiness and satisfaction through wise choices); and
4) a sense of purpose (developing potential and sharing it).
Example SFK exercise: A darkened room, kids holding candles. One child's candle is lit, then each child must use his/her own candle to light another child's. Lesson learned? Sharing your personal light with others not only doesn't take away from your own light, but also adds more light to the world.
And according to a recent Rand Corporation study, SFK measurably increases positive behaviors, decreases behavioral problems and improves academic outcomes. Quoth the research, "The SFK program had positive effects on virtually every domain covered by the survey."
While SFK is aimed at 7- to 12-year olds, Spirituality for Teens (SFT) targets 13 to 18-year-olds.
Maybe they'll consider developing Spirituality for Mid-Lifers (for us slower learner types), or — since the program's currently available in the U.S. in only LA, NY, Boston and Miami — a do-it-yourself Spirituality for Moms "home-school" sort of kit.
Anybody want to get one of these programs up and running here in Austin? Anyone?