Abby Gray is a corporate marketing manager Abby Grayfor Staples Promotional Products. She enjoys developing marketing strategies, especially those that involve digital experiences. She manages the strategy and development of YourBrandPartner.com and the Staples Promotional Products social media accounts.

 

Kids activities, like dance, T-ball, robotics and many more groups, are key to influencing a child’s life.

These kids’ activities help children grow beyond their standard education by giving them opportunities to interact with other kids in a less formal environment than a classroom and teach them key lessons in creative, unique ways.

But every child is different and their interests may create finding these groups more difficult.

We know dozens of dancers, baseball or soccer players, football stars, or gymnasts and cheer leaders. My daughter was always on the outskirts of those groups. She didn’t enjoy her time playing those games and she didn’t try her hardest.

art classOver the years we’ve identified what does make sense for her though. One of the first hints that we were going after the wrong activities came when my daughter was in kindergarten. She randomly turned to my husband (an electrician) and asked, “If lightning is made from static electricity, then why would it come from a cloud because clouds are made from water and static electricity can’t develop in the water?” Clearly she was showing us her interest and preciousness about science. Something that hadn’t been so obvious before this conversation. Then in first grade her class was tasked with creating a snowman.  They had paper printouts to start which they could do anything with, and they did. There were glittery snowmen, Camo snowmen, dirty snowmen, etc. It was a beautiful display, one that my daughter’s was not a part of because she created her snowman into a mobile, like what you’d hang over a baby’s crib, that had to hang from a ceiling. In her teacher’s entire career, she’d said she’d never had a child create a 3-dimensional snowman.

 

art instituteFast forward to the present and my daughter is 11 years old and is a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) * fanatic. In March she will be attending the NASA Space Camp program, and every year during the summer and fall she’s in as many programs as she can be that foster her growth in her favorite topics. Finding these programs (the science oriented ones, particularly) can be a little harder than I anticipated, but each year as we meet more kids with similar interests, it becomes easier to find something else to sign her up for. Because these kids are telling stories of their activities, and we’re hearing them because they’re proudly wearing a T-shirt, or carrying a backpack, or using something that touts the program to the world.

What I think is so powerful about kid’s programs is how they create a spark in someone so young that they will remember forever. The greatest way to create advocacy is by creating a moment for your customer with your brand.

Your program’s awareness can’t stop in the mind of one great advocate. You have to give them the opportunity to help spread the message.

robotics competitionIf there is one thing my daughter is the most proud of, it is her participation and love of these programs. And she shows her pride most frequently by wearing the T-shirts her groups give her. In fact, in an average week she wears a branded T-shirt at least 4 out of 7 days (sometimes to my shopaholic self’s dismay). That means that the hundreds of kids in her school could see her shirt and ask her about it (that’s how a new kid joined her Robotics team this year), or a parent volunteering in the classroom may see the name and Google it is later known they were looking for something similar (like how I found her swim team). Or how about when we run to the grocery store (and aren’t buried in coats and scarves and other winter wear)? We pass friends we’ve made in one group or another easily every week, and if they know my daughter is interested in THIS activity, there’s a good chance their child would be too. When we head to her weekly painting class/piano class/etc., there is yet another friend hearing about an area group they can join.

It isn’t advertising to kids. It is about empowering each of these kids to get the people they care about to become a part of another great community. So when you’re in the planning phases of your next extra curricular group, ask yourself how you’ll create a community of advocates, and consider how promotional products can help you reach that goal.

 

Read more on the importance of buying products for kids that follow safety guidelines.

*Learn more about STEM & STEAM programs through Edweek

Read about the differences of STEM & STEAM programs