This post originally appeared on LifeSmarts.org. LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. Written by Lisa Hertzberg, LifeSmarts Program Director.
I could not be more proud of NCL’s LifeSmarts program and the difference it makes for high school students. We educate the next generation of students about their worker and consumer rights, helping them learn about important real-world topics such as saving for their futures, nutrition, digital security and privacy, and much more. LifeSmarts is so successful because it provides teens with the skills and knowledge they need to evaluate risks and opportunities in order to make informed decisions for themselves and their families. It pushes students to use critical thinking skills and prepares them to apply these skills to the real world.
But LifeSmarts teachers other lessons, too: It provides students with confidence, pride, leadership skills, and teamwork. It enables students to become a voice for their families and their communities – helping others avoid fraud, make better deals, and exercise their rights with conviction. We also hear from educators that LifeSmarts motivates students to improve their grades. For some, it’s even the anchor they need to stay in school.
Here is one moving story a LifeSmarts coach shared with me about the difference she had seen LifeSmarts make for one of her students, Joey.
Joey was a junior when he took one of my classes. He was a middle child — with an older sister, who was in the top ten in her class, and a younger brother, who made top grades as well. Joey, on the other hand, struggled to maintain passing grades. When we took the test to qualify for the LifeSmarts state competition, he was not in the top five or even the top 15. But I needed another boy on the team, and since Joey had been helping the other students practice, I decided to give him a chance and put him on the team.
At the state competition, the team won the first round and got a fever to win. They kept winning until the semi-final round, when they lost by five points on the final buzzer question.
Their competition was over for the year, but the three junior members of the team came to me when we got home. They wanted to keep the team together and try to win the state LifeSmarts title their senior year.
The next year, when they took their quizzes to qualify online, Joey and Lucy had a tie score. This was the third year Lucy had been on a LifeSmarts team and she had always had the top score. Joey, on the other hand, had more than doubled his score from the year before.
As a junior, he had one area of expertise: automobiles. As a senior, it was obvious that he had spent a lot of time studying. He answered questions in all areas and was fast and confident on the buzzer. I am proud to say that the team finished first at state and traveled to nationals to represent Texas at the National LifeSmarts Championship!
Joey said that this was the first time he had achieved anything academically that his brother and sister had not done first and better. His counselor commented about how far his class rank went up his senior year. Other teachers told me his grades dramatically improved his senior year. I cannot guarantee that it was all due to LifeSmarts, but I know that it was a big factor.
You can help us reach more students like Joey. We are asking for contributions in support of LifeSmarts this #GivingTuesday. This global initiative takes place December 1, 2015, and is a day devoted to giving back to nonprofit organizations via social media. You may donate anytime, and don’t have to wait for December 1!
We are excited to announce that we have received a pledge from BuckleySandler, LLP, and Jonice Gray Tucker, a member of the LifeSmarts Advisory Board, to match individual donations made on #GivingTuesday! Their generosity will help double the contributions we get—so please keep that in mind and give whatever you can this year!