Did you know that every year, Community Engagement Day is celebrated globally on January 28th?
This year, 2023, that’s a Saturday. So you get a whole, school-free day, to participate in a celebration that transcends national borders and commends collaboration. Really…it’s a very cool opportunity to teach your young ones about the power of community for creating change.
A *Quick* History
How about a little bit more about Global Community Engagement Day? After all…it is one of the youngest, officially recognized, global events – first celebrated in 2018.
Its brief history began in a small town in southern Australia by an organization called Engage 2 Act. This group was self-described as “…a collective of individuals committed to progressing high-quality community engagement practice.”
Engage 2 Act’s first step towards its eventual global recognition was to create a poll on their social media platforms, which prompted constituents to consider who they felt was the most inspiring community leader.
The top vote?
Dr. Wendy Sarkissian, who’s birthday – January 28- became Community Engagement Day.
These days, Engage 2 Act hosts an annual blog competition which serves as a platform for participants to share their acts of community engagement.
Your community is personal. It’s where you have chosen to live, maybe raise a family, and includes people that you vibe with – for the most part. Your community does a LOT for you.
Members fill vital roles and provide services that solve problems for the collective group. And this special day is all about acknowledging, appreciating, and supporting your community’s efforts.
Cool! How can I get involved with my family?
The best thing about this holiday is there can be so many ways to celebrate, based on how you choose to identify the community. And THIS is a great starting point to discuss with your little ones:
- Agree on a definition of community. What are some keywords that stand out in your discussion? (Group, collection, people, similar, interests, etc.)
2. Consider together what some examples of community may be in your area. (A club, your kid’s school, church/faith community, etc. If you scale out even more, this could be your town. Your county. Your geographical location.)
3. Next, choose 2 or 3 of these community groups on which to focus. You want to opt for ones that you feel you are a part of, but there’s room for you to do more.
4. Brainstorm attainable actions that you and your family can do to contribute to and support that group.
Here are 3 examples of ways you and your family can participate:
- A Dog Park PARTY.
You and your family take your dog to the dog park several times a week. Along with other owners and families, you enjoy watching your pets make friends with one another.
That dog park was almost certainly the result of a community effort to provide a central location for everyone to collectively enjoy their pets’ playful antics. And now your family and all of those owners and families have become members of the dog park community.
Idea: Homemade dog treats for park-goers.
Here’s a recipe for easy and affordable dog treats that you can make at home! Give your kids jobs like peeling the bananas or measuring the ingredients as they go into the food processor. Their investment will make it all the more exciting for them when they get to see their dog friends enjoying them!
Bring your homemade dog treats to the park. Together, you can offer the treats to other owners as an appreciation of your community dog park pals!
2. Write thank-you cards.
Every week, at Mountain Roots Day Camp, we set aside a period of time for campers to create cards portraying their gratitude. Sometimes they are for the staff at the host school, service-workers, or even family members.
It’s a go-to Mountain Roots exercise because let’s be honest…
it is just *so* special to have someone see you, appreciate you, and TELL you as much! Plus…it’s easy!
With your kiddos, think of one of their community groups. Maybe it’s their school, soccer team, club, or camp. Have them consider who they think the people are that help make those group events happen?
Help them come up with a list (tip: try to keep it to a reasonable number so that each one of these people ends up with a card).
Maybe a card for the janitor or bus driver at school, the coaches of the soccer teams, organizers of the club or administration of the camp – to name a few.
Together, you can come up with a thank-you card for each one of the people who have dedicated their time and expertise to the betterment of the whole community.
Make sure the note includes details like who the card is for, what their service means to the writer, and, of course, their gratitude. Together, you and your kids can come up with a plan for the best way to ensure the card reaches the intended recipient.
3. Attend local family-fun events.
Local events are usually the result of a collaborative partnership between sponsors and vendors. And, I must say, they’re usually REALLY fun. Food, games, shopping…
– you AND your family are in for a treat!
Lucky for us all, western NC (and, specifically Transylvania County), has a plethora of local family-fun events to choose from. They are often free or inexpensive entry.
Here are a few of our favorites happening this year:
Jan 20: Family Fort Night and Read-In
Mar 25-26: Arts in March
May 26-28: White Squirrel Weekend
July 4: Fireworks Extravaganza!
Aug 12: Cold Mountain Music Festival
Sept 11-16: Art is In the Air- En Plein Air Festival
Oct 28: Halloween Fest & Spooky Stroll
Dec 1-31: Holiday Windows Competition
Really, there are an unlimited number of ways you can get the whole family excited about engaging with their communities. And, it can even be fun for all of you, too!
Just by giving a little bit of focus to the people who do so much to make things happen in your community, you’re already celebrating this positively impactful day.
Have more ideas about ways to engage with the community with the whole family? Share your stories and thoughts below!