In these columns and on my radio show, I often talk about the importance of giving, something that I ardently want my children to know and understand. With Thanksgiving just days behind us and the holiday season officially here, there’s quite a bit of buzz surrounding this idea. As parents, we are without a doubt our children’s first role models. But if children can learn by emulating the actions of a younger segment of the population, I think it can have an even stronger appeal.
So when I recently caught up with Allie Nault, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2016, I knew our conversation would be timely and something I’d want to share with other parents. Nault was in Chester County last week prior to her appearance in the Phila. Thanksgiving Day parade. While in our area, the 18-year-old native of New Hampshire did crafts with intellectually disabled adults at Berwyn’s Melmark School and gave out piggy banks to children at Chick-Fil-A at the Exton Square Mall.
Nault talked to me about giving back, instilling these values in young people and the importance of learning financial responsibility at a young age. She says parents shouldn’t preach to children about giving. Instead, Nault recommends that parents help children identity what they’re passionate about so that kindness comes more naturally. Nault says she’s always enjoyed community service and as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, she is the official National Teen Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals.
In January, Nault made her new year’s resolution to do random acts of kindness. She said that’s an easy way for anyone—especially children—to get into the spirit of giving.
In her role as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, Nault chose her platform “Making Sense – Becoming Financially Responsible.” She may have gained financial wherewithal younger than most. At the age of eight, Nault already had a savings account and started investing in Wal-Mart, Procter and Gamble and McDonalds, a move that she says paid off. She credits her parents with instilling financial responsibility in her from the time she could count.
Nault says she was disturbed by a statistic she recently learned that “more kids have a cell phone than a savings account.” She says that it’s important for parents to bring their children to the bank to deposit money and learn about the values of saving.
Balancing the idea of giving to others with financial responsibility, Nault says she talks to young people about portioning out their money so that they can share, save and spend. This consistent practice of assessing our needs versus our wants is certainly something with which we can all identify.
Allie Nault earned a $25,000 scholarship when she was crowned Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2016 August 1 in Orlando. As it celebrates its tenth anniversary, MAOTeen has grown to become one of the world’s leading providers of educational scholarships and community service.
Nault is a high school senior who plans to graduate early. She hopes to attend Johnson and Wales College in Rhode Island to pursue a degree in hospitality and business, with a minor in political science. She aspires to own her own Chick-Fil-A one day in her home state of New Hampshire.