For Good: Play Day in the Park teaches Tampa Bay Area kids about philanthropy

Sylvia Campbell believes it’s never too early to begin teaching children about their role in the local and global community.

“Allow them in their own way to help others,” say the Tampa surgeon, “and you develop a culture of love and compassion for others in need, as well as an awareness of a world outside the one you inhabit.”

That’s the premise behind Play Day in the Park, set for 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Kate Jackson Park, 821 S. Rome Ave., Tampa. Think of it as crash course in philanthropy for pint-sized participants.

The interactive event is sponsored by Village Partners International,  the nonprofit Campbell founded and serves as President of the board. The mission organization partners with villages in Haiti and Uganda to create independent, self-sustaining projects, and locally works with Beth-El Farmworker Ministry in Wimauma. Its focus: Health, education, housing and entrepreneurship.

For Campbell, working with VPI has allowed her to be part of a “community of giving in the most amazing way.”

“It’s restored my faith not only in myself, but in humanity,” she says. “People truly do want to help, if only they knew the way.”

This first-ever interactive Play in the Park is designed to show children that they don’t have to wait until they grow up to get involved, and to celebrate the cultures of Haiti and Uganda.

The event will include activities, crafts, games, snacks, music and face-painting. Though admission is free, donations will be accepted at some of the displays to go toward VPI’s work. Also, children are encouraged to bring their favorite Band-Aids or vitamins to give to one of the medical clinics run by the nonprofit.

Campbell acknowledges that it’s not an easy task to teach kids from comfortable homes about poverty – especially the kind of poverty that VPI volunteers experience on their mission trips. Parents can play a big role in teaching their children how their seemingly small, insignificant actions, such as bringing vitamins, collecting pennies or sending cards, can be significant when added together and “truly change the world.”

“Children in this community have been given so much,” she says. “It’s part of our responsibility about adults to instill in them the desire to help others, and to understand that with privilege, comes responsibility to others.”

To learn more about the event, go to Facebook and search: “Kids Helping Kids! Presented by Village Partners International.”

Read more articles by Michelle Bearden.

Michelle Bearden is a feature writer at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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