What Is "Save the Children"?

6, 7, 8

In this lesson, students learn that human rights laws include "conventions" that protect children's rights. They identify the mission of Save the Children and recognize the need for taking action to save children around the world.

PrintOne 45-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define human rights.
  • discuss children's right to access to health as required by the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • define philanthropy as giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good.
  • write a personal goal for taking action.

UNICEF. Background on Human Rights. https://www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention

UNICEF. Path to conventions for children’s rights: http://www.unicef.org/crc/index_30197.html 



  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Say, "You probably often hear about your responsibilities. Today, I want to ask you about your rights and the rights of all children (people under the age of 18) around the world. What rights do all children have?" Brainstorm a list.

  2. Pose the question, “Do we have a responsibility to be concerned with the well-being/rights of others as well as our own?” Accept all answers, asking students to defend their opinions.

    Then share the following quote from some homeless children in Haiti who worked together to build a shelter and an activist radio program to help each other. They were asked what they would like to say to young people in the United States. They said, “Tell them we are here, that we are no less than wealthy children, and that there should be a place for everyone at the table.”

    Reflect on and share thoughts and interpretation of the quote.

  3. The UN developed a set of articles, called a Convention, laying out how to provide the best opportunities for children around the world. Most countries (called states in the document) have ratified the convention, holding their goverment responsible to uphold the practices that assure children are given the best chance possible.

    Display the following Web pages or print out sections of the pages describing the history of the development of the Convention: https://www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention/history-child-rights. Scan these with the students to gain a sense of the importance of human rights for children.

    Take time to carefully read article 24, which relates to children's right to health. Discuss whether these articles describe needs or wants of children. Tell the students that if governments don't make these issues law, the necessary resources won't go to the children who need them.

  4. Introduce the organization Save the Children. You may have seen the Save the Children TV commercials for sponsoring a single child in need. Ask what they think children need to be saved from. Allow them to respond with some guesses (poverty, disease, hunger, lack of schooling). Talk about how they feel about helping children around the world. (What motivates them to take action to help children, and what seems difficult?)

  5. Save the Children is a nonprofit organization that seeks to bring health resources to the poorest countries in the world to save children who might otherwise not survive. Tell students that each year, more than 8 million children die from preventable and treatable causes. Nearly 4 million of these deaths are among newborns in their first month of life - half of them dying within their first 24 hours. Save the Children trains health workers in those countries and provides them with medicine and supplies. Go to the following URL to read about their work with children around the world: https://www.savethechildren.org/us/about-us

  6. Discuss

    1. Why do you think an organization in North America provides money and aid to help children in countries around the world?
    2. How do you feel when you hear about children in need in faraway countries? Do you wish you could help but don't think you can?
    3. Is healthcare for all children a need or a want? 
  7. Tell the students that Save the Children is a philanthropic nonprofit organization. Remind them that philanthropy is "giving time, talent, or treasure or taking action for the common good."

  8. Tell the students that people are born with the desire to help others. Have them recall examples of toddlers being helpful and sharing. Also, people learn to give, care, and share from the people around them, and giving becomes a habit when we practice it.

  9. Ask the students to name times they did something kind for someone. Discuss whether they believe it made a difference and how they felt about their action. This may include helping a neighbor with a chore, donating food to a food pantry, volunteering at a community event, or helping someone with homework. As they give examples, ask them to decide whether their action involved sharing time (volunteering to hand out water at a community race), talent (teaching a neighbor to play lacrosse), or treasure (giving gently used toys to a toy drive at the holidays or donating pennies to raise money for victims of a disaster). After several students have shared, ask them if they are philanthropists (yes!).

  10. Tell the students that when they act as philanthropists, they are part of the civil society sector. Our society depends on people getting involved in the civil society sector because there are some things, such as saving children, that a government or business just cannot or will not do.

  11. Have students write a paragraph responding in detail to one of the following questions. In their paragraphs, they must take a stand and support their stand with evidence.

    Is it possible for children to help children? or Do all world citizens have the responsibility to ensure children's rights? 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Give examples of needs not met by the government, business, or family sectors.
    3. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark MS.1 State the purpose of a mission statement and describe how civil society organization mission statements relate to philanthropy.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.14 Describe how citizens can use organizations in the civil society sector to hold people in power accountable for their actions on behalf of the public.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.