Today is ‘National Thank You Day’! The Youth Trust is excited to join charities, organisations and individuals across the UK to say THANK YOU!
The past 18 months have been extremely challenging, and many people have gone above and beyond to help and care for others during the Covid-19 pandemic. From frontline NHS workers and community heroes such as Sir Captain Tom Moore or Marcus Rashford to teachers, parents, carers, volunteers and neighbours. So many people really do deserve a heartfelt thank you!
During the pandemic it has often been easier to focus our thoughts on the difficult or challenging things happening rather than on what we do have to be thankful for. Practicing and showing gratitude can make a real positive difference to others and to our own wellbeing.
Gratitude is an important character virtue that we should seek to develop and nurture in our young people. The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtue at the University of Birmingham, in their ‘Give thanks - Give back’ report, found that “cultivating gratitude may help to develop a seedbed that allows other virtues such as empathy, compassion and kindness to grow. It is these together that form compelling motivators to want to ‘give back’ to others.”
Thankfulness can be the first step for young people to engage with reaching out and giving back to their communities. Through the Young Leaders Award we have seen children and young people compelled to express their thanks to others around them such as their teachers or NHS workers in practical ways.
For example, KS3 pupils from Trinity School, Carlisle, visited their local hospital with ‘thank you packages’ for all the staff to express their gratitude for their hard work and dedication to the community. (pre Covid-19)
KS2 pupils at Water Primary School, Rossendale, decided to say thank you to parents and carers in their school community by handing out flowers and newspapers at the school gate to brighten their day. (pre Covid-19)
The practice of noticing what they themselves have to be thankful for can also motivate young people to reach out to those who have been less fortunate. For example, reflecting on feeling thankful for family and friends might prompt a young person to want to help others who might be feeling lonely or isolated with few family or friends around them. In this sense thankfulness goes hand in hand with social action.
KS1 pupils from Annfield Plain Infant School were concerned that older people might be feeling lonely during the pandemic, so they forged a link with their local care home. Pupils sent cards, visited to wave through the window, sent recordings of their Christmas Nativity and tidied their garden.
The Jubilee Centre’s ‘Give thanks - Give Back’ report also suggests that “special attention should be paid to assisting young people to feel confident in articulating and communicating their sense of gratitude to others.”
National Thank you Day is an excellent opportunity for schools to give their pupils creative ways of doing just this. To reflect on who they would like to thank, to articulate why they are thankful and to decide how they could express their thanks in a practical way.
However, let’s not limit saying thank you to just this one day! Let’s be thankful every day and let our gratitude inspire us to make our communities better places for everyone.
(Give thanks - Give back; Gratitude and service in school and the community, Lee Rogerson, 2015)