Raising my son in downtown Toronto, I’ve had lots of opportunities to talk to my boy about homelessness, hunger and how some people haven’t been all that lucky in life.
Seeing the now-familiar faces of the homeless living on the streets in our neighbourhood every day, my son has often asked why they ask for money, why they sleep on the street.
I use the Monopoly game analogy to explain: it’s like some people start off the game of life owing the bank a ton of money (symbolizing the very real impacts of such things as growing up in poverty, racism, abuse, substance abuse, mental illness, etc.) and have a hard time ever catching up.
Meanwhile others, the very lucky ones, it’s as though they started the game with a million dollars in the bank, I tell him. As a result, they have no problem soaring in life.
As my son gets older, he’s now just ten, I will start to explain the more complicated layers of this.
While we’ve made cookies and muffins for the people we often see, and my husband and I give money to charity from every paycheque, we haven’t gone further to show our son what else can be done to help people in need.
In November, TVO launches its Why Poverty? campaign, joining media organizations the world over. As a part of that intiative, TVOKids today (September 3) launched the Everybody Help Out food collection drive to get kids involved in lending a hand. Kids can bring pieces of food to their local fire department, then log the number of pieces they collected on the TVOKids website.
Karen Bridson-Boyczuk is a journalist, author, producer and director. She is a digital media producer specializing in curriculum for TVOParents.com.