October is Global Diversity Awareness month. This is a great time to talk with children about diversity throughout God’s creation. Diversity and equity are two areas that many organizations are addressing these days, through trainings and deep conversation. However, we don’t often bring this to children and hear their experiences. Kids can be like sponges for information, but they can also provide wise insight for adults. Children often see others’ gender, race, religion, and economic status in ways that bring about questions, yet with some guidance their questions can often lead to acceptance.
Thankfully, adults and children can learn together. Through playful activities and games, we can seek to better understand each person we encounter. Think of games children play such as guessing games, I Spy, or Have You Ever. Each of these games provides an opportunity to grow beyond the world in which we are limited. They can help us see the expansiveness of God’s love. We can also talk with children about what makes each person unique, such as the color of one’s hair, a hidden talent, or even familial relationships.
Helping children celebrate and understand diversity is imperative in today’s world. As faith leaders, we can help children learn about different cultures, religions, families, and people without the heavy weight of discrimination. Starting early means children are more receptive because much of learned discrimination has not been so deeply instilled. We are, in fact, called to highlight the various aspects of all God’s children.
You can incorporate Bible passages, such as Galatians 3:28: “There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” When we look at biblical passages, we can show how we honor each person, in all their diversity, helping children see that we can celebrate differences, rather than love despite them. Once there’s a foundation of God’s love and diversity in God’s creation, children will begin to recognize how they can foster God’s love among their friends and family.
Faith formation is a unique time to highlight how God created each of us, and every aspect of creation, to be unique. We can show children how God’s love includes their differences and the beautiful variations in our world. Begin conversations about differences and diversity with simple games, questions about oneself, or biblical passages. Gather your stories, your thoughts on differences, and get ready to dive deep with children. We just might learn more from their experience and insight.