Children today are extremely busy with school and extracurricular activities, where they hone specific skills for whatever they’re doing. However, schools aren’t necessarily teaching kids important social skills such as empathy, compassion, and community service. According to Sarah Kozlowski, founder of The Kidconscious Project, it’s just as important to have a high EQ (Emotional Intelligence) as it is to have a high IQ, to succeed in today’s world.
“As parents, we are often laser-focused on building specific skills in our kids to help them succeed in life, but often times EQ is forgotten in the quest for IQ,” said Kozlowski. “I believe success in life can be achieved by helping children from an early age become self-aware, know how to be responsible for their own safety, attain practical, life-long skills, become smart digital citizens, and think about their mental well-being. The Kidconscious Project provides tools to give children and their families a way to develop kids’ sense of self and how they connect to the community and the world at large.”
She added that as kids are increasingly engaged on social media platforms and behind the screen, families have become more insular because the world at times seems pretty scary. This has resulted in a significant number of children who suffer from anxiety and depression. Kids can feel alone, bullied, and parents are stretched to their limits, reducing the time spent with their children away from these outside pressures. Media can provoke and spread hurtful messages that can harm young children and adolescents.
“Parents are often over-protecting their kids at the expense of letting children experience how to be a citizen of the world, and interact with each other effectively,” added Kozlowski.
The Kidconscious Project
After having her first child, Kozlowski wanted to find a way to give moms and dads a way to volunteer with their babies in tow, and so she co-founded More Than Milk, a non-profit organization that she brought to Denver from Chicago in 2011. It thrived for many years, and as Kozlowski’s kids grew older, she realized she needed to change the model. Her children were old enough to give input and learn about the process of building critical life skills, and her desire was to build a family experience through life skills learning and social outreach. She then created The Kidconscious Project, which aims to develop softer skills like EQ, empathy, compassion and citizenship through life skills learning and service outreach opportunities for children ages 6-12 and their families.
Kozlowski has an advisory board of eight other moms, and consults regularly with her own two older girls and a young son. In addition, she works with outside consultants to help build a curriculum of core skills that can be applied in real-life situations.
“Service is a big piece of what I strive to offer, but it’s not enough on its own,” said Kozlowski. “I wanted to open a bigger conversation that is deeper and more engaged, and gives kids the inner tools they will need to make service and outreach a more meaningful part of their adult lives.”
How It Works
Kozlowski decided that diving deep into a particular topic of interest over a three-month period would help achieve her goals. This spring, The Kidconscious Project is focused on nutrition and building healthy bodies. There will be two cooking classes at The Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus and kids will be visiting The Grow House in Denver, where they can learn about growing fruits and vegetables and supplying those healthy foods to a variety of local communities in food deserts.
This summer, she will be focusing on healthy minds. With so many troubling cases of depression in children, parents can equip themselves to see what really needs attention in building consciousness and a positive mindset. Meanwhile, kids can participate in a range of mental wellness-centric events and camps.
“I’m excited about the conversations that we’re sparking with families and kids participating in our programming,” said Kozlowski. “Kids are learning core skills that have actual application in their lives, now and ongoing, and they are getting a bigger picture of our local community and world in the process. Ultimately, I hope to create a more conscious-minded community of families that will have impact on each of their spheres of influence.”
Some of the most popular programs center on safety, including body safety, home safety and digital citizenship.
“Safety is at the forefront of every parent’s mind,” added Kozlowski. “If our kids aren’t safe first and foremost, and have the tools to protect themselves in a variety of situations, then nothing else really matters,” said Kozlowski.
KidPower out of Colorado Springs partnered with The Kidconscious Project to address body safety – both around strangers and people familiar to kids. Other classes have included home safety where fire experts come in to run kids through various possible scenarios and how to handle those issues. This teaches kids what they should do in the case of a gas leak, a fire, and even safety around the oven.
When Kozlowski says she is building strong leadership and citizenship skills from the inside out, she means that kids need to improve core skills they can apply in all situations to foster healthy relationships, and hands-on engagement with the community through fresh perspectives, open hearts, and optimism.
To learn more about class and program offerings at The Kidconscious Project, visit www.kidconsciousproject.com.
The digital citizenship program has a big safety component to it because when kids are online, they are open to hard-hitting messages. Kozlowski understands that online safety is crucial, pertinent, and highly relevant in today’s world and parents, as well as children, must learn how to be safe.