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Wish Blog

Sep 11, 2018

Back to School - How Empathy Impacts Happiness and Success

School is back in session and kids are once again focused on math problems, science projects and history dates. An important part of their education, however, goes beyond book learning. Nurturing empathy and altruism in children can significantly impact their happiness and success, now and into adulthood.

Dr. Michele Borba, a leading educational psychologist and author, says that teens today are forty percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. She believes decreased empathy coupled with a self-absorption epidemic she calls the "Selfie Syndrome" is leading to more bullying, less resilience in kids and harming their academic performance. And once children grow up, a lack of empathy hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate, and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy.

The good news is that empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured. According to Diane Harris in, “The benefits of actively fostering children's charitable impulses are enormous. Besides helping counter the overdeveloped "gimme" impulse, it gives kids a powerful boost in self-esteem to realize they can make a difference in someone's life.”

"Children naturally look for ways to make a contribution and help others," says Deborah Spaide, founder of Kids Care Clubs. "But just as we give our children opportunities to use their legs when they're learning to walk, we need to give them opportunities to exercise their charitable muscles, so they become really good at giving too."   

kids for wish kids

Kids For Wish Kids is a Make-A-Wish program that gives students an opportunity to directly help other children. The program is unique because it is managed by them. Kids and teens are responsible for brainstorming fundraising ideas, developing a plan of action and managing their fundraisers from start to finish. Whether it’s a bake sale, a car wash, a school dance or whatever else they can imagine, the success and satisfaction of knowing they’re helping kids fighting critical illnesses is theirs.

Through the experience, they’ll learn the importance of community involvement and philanthropy, leadership skills and how to work with others toward a common goal.

To help, we have lots of great resources to share, including our program toolkit and samples from other schools!

If you are interested in learning more about Kids For Wish Kids, please contact Kathie Lombardi at (212) 957-9474 or at

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