Global Youth Service Day: What Will You Do?

Volunteering is an opportunity to change lives, including your own.  It is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote goodness or improve human quality of life. In return, volunteering can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect. There are many volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages – playing with kittens at the local humane society, serving meals at the local rescue mission, or picking up trash in a neighborhood park.youthserviceday

Research has shown that students who participated in service-learning were found to have scored higher than non-participating students in several studies, particularly in social studies and language arts. They were found to be more cognitively engaged and more motivated to learn. Service-learning has also been shown to increase achievement among alternative school students and other students considered at risk of school failure.

Service learning has always been a major part of our homeschool journey. Today, I share a variety of ways in which you can encourage your teens and pre-teens to get involved.

Global Youth Service Day

The 2016 Global Youth Service Day is April 15-17. Many youth organizations hold events in conjunction with Global Youth Service Day, so the month of April is full of service and awareness opportunities that you can celebrate as part of Global Youth Service Day. Choose a cause and an idea from the list of ideas below or come up with your own. Your project can count towards as many of these events as you want.
Earth Day

Service to the Environment

2016 marks the 12th annual National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) which will be celebrated April 17-23, 2016. EE Week events and projects will be taking place across the country in classrooms, after-school clubs, parks, aquariums, museums, and more. Families and educators of all kinds, teaching any age, are encouraged to take part in the nationwide celebration.

It’s Our Turn to Lead: Earth Day ~ Earth Day celebrations bring to light the fact that this planet’s resources are finite and will not last forever. Earth Day is April 22 this year, learn more today.

Plant a school vegetable or pollinator garden. Designating a small patch of the yard for some native flowering plants is a great way to attract pollinating insects to your home or school.

Celebrate Arbor Day All Year with These 12 Activities ~ The Arbor Day Foundation inspires people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.

Create a Bottle Cap Mural ~ A long term project that promotes recycling and provides an opportunity to give back to the community.

Don't ReleaseDon’t Let it Loose ~ Educate your community about the dangers of invasive species, for example, Saving the Native Pond Turtle.

Annual Ladybug Hunt ~ A citizen science project asking people of all ages to collect data on ladybugs in their local area.

Contact a local recycling center to see if someone can give a guest presentation about how different materials are recycled and the processes that take place at the facility.

Take part in the World Water Monitoring Challenge ~ In this citizen science project, students learn more about the watersheds in which they live, how watersheds work, and how protecting their waters can have beneficial impacts.

You can also find a variety of teaching materials and educator toolkits on the National Environmental Education Foundation website.

Service to Our Communities

He Had a Dream: The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King ~ Each year, people across the country come together to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy by serving their communities.

Is there a cause dear to your heart? Think of a project or fundraising campaign to help teach others. In our home, we join the Nystagmus Network on Wobbly Wednesday to raise awareness and research funds for Nystagmus.

Habitat For Humanity Act! Speak! Build! Week ~ Building alone cannot provide shelter for the 1.6 billion people who currently live in poverty housing. Act! Speak! Build! Week serves to educate others by expanding the scope of Habitat’s mission from raising a hammer and raising funds to include raising your voice.

servicelearningService Learning Through Roots & Shoots ~ Roots & Shoots is the youth-led community action and learning program of the Jane Goodall Institute. Each year, youth collaborate to make a difference for animals, the environment, and their local communities.

Looking for a way to help kids in your community? Host your very own Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry.

Roots & Shoots Turns Learners into Leaders ~ Roots & Shoots places the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people.

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids @EvaVarga.netVolunteering is an opportunity to change lives, including your own.  It is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote goodness or improve human quality of life. In return, this activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect.

As a family, we have made volunteering and service learning a major component of our homeschool. Over the years, we have had opportunities to volunteer in a variety of ways. I’d like to share some of those experiences with you in hopes of inspiring you to seek out volunteer opportunities for kids in your local community.

Roots & Shoots

My children and I have been active in Roots & Shoots since they were toddlers. Roots & Shoots is a youth-led community action and learning program of the Jane Goodall Institute. The program builds on the legacy and vision of Dr. Jane Goodall to place the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people. They are encouraged to work towards three goals: Care & Concern for the Environment, Care & Concern for Animals, and Care & Concern for the Community.

One of the things I love about Roots & Shoots is the flexibility. Through the program, young people map their community to identify specific challenges their neighborhoods face.  From there, they prioritize the problems, develop a plan for a solution, and take action.

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids @EvaVarga.netWe were recently interviewed for a local magazine about our volunteer efforts with Roots & Shoots. My kids loved talking with the reporter about their projects – each sharing what was in their heart and how they have been inspired to do locally.

My son shared his passion for music and talked about how he volunteers regularly at a local retirement home to perform for the residents. He stated, “I really look forward to going. I like giving them something to listen to and I like hearing them share about how music has touched their lives.”

My daughter talked about her long-term study looking at the impact of invasive turtles have on the ecosystem, specifically how they affect the population of native pond turtles. She shared with the reporter the posters she and her friends made to inform the public of the threat releasing pets.

Read my post, Service Learning Through Roots & Shoots to learn more about this dynamic program. You might also consider joining me for a free online course this summer, Turning Learners Into Leaders: Empowering Youth Through Service in Education.

Humane Society / Animal Shelter

Volunteering at a local animal shelter is one of the easiest ways to make a difference. Children can decorate kennels, help with events, foster an animal, or even walk the dogs. Children may be interested in raising monies to purchase food, bedding, or goods as a donation.

When my kids were younger, we volunteered at a shelter regularly to simply play with the cats. They wanted to walk the dogs as well but weren’t quite old enough. Age restrictions will vary so check with your local shelter to learn more.

Rescue Mission / Homeless Shelter

Another great way to give back is to volunteer to serve meals at a homeless shelter. A few years ago, I volunteered in the education department of our local mission and my children were allowed to accompany me. They worked on their own assignments as I walked around the room and helped the women with their coursework and job training skills.

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids @EvaVarga.netLiving History

Some of our fondest memories of volunteering come from our experiences at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, where we volunteered as living history interpreters, Homeschooling in 1880: Living History Volunteers. In this role, we spent one day a week dressed up in period clothing and told the story of the early pioneers in the high desert. Our story was based loosely on our own ancestors. It was an awesome way to connect with the past as well as develop public speaking skills.

Public Library

My daughter is anxiously awaiting her 13th birthday so that she can serve on our local library’s teen advisory board. In this role she would get to interact with other avid readers, make recommendations to library staff on books, programs, and services, and inform patrons of her favorite books via shelf flags.

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. ~ Jane Goodall

Adopt-A-Park

Many municipalities utilize partnerships with local organizations to preserve, beautify and maintain neighborhood parks. Some of the tasks could include pruning, raking, weeding, light painting, graffiti removal, litter removal, tree and flower planting. As a part of the turtle project, my daughter is considering this option for the future.

Community Cleanups & Weed Pulls

Lastly, another way to tap into volunteer work is through organizations like church youth groups, scouts, and local agencies. The California Coastal Commission organizes an annual beach cleanup event in the fall each year.

Invasive species have always been a passion for me and we’ve thereby participated in many community weed pulls – both locally and while on vacation. You can read about our weed pull experience in Hawai’i in my post, Hoaloha ‘aina Weed Pull. Can you find a weed pull or cleanup in your community?

~ ♥︎ ~

I have shared additional resources and ideas for volunteer opportunities in my post, It’s Our Turn to Lead: Earth Day 2015,  at Multicultural Kid Blogs. I encourage you to take time to talk over the interests you share as a family and seek out options in your area. In what ways can YOU make a difference?

Service Learning Through Roots & Shoots

I have coordinated a Roots & Shoots club in one form or another since I first heard Jane Goodall speak at an Oregon Science Teacher’s Conference in 1997. She has been an inspiration to me since I was a little girl. Taking part in Roots & Shoots has not only enabled me to meet Jane Goodall, but has encouraged me to work hard to make a difference.

“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference, human and non-human alike.” ~ Jane Goodall

servicelearning

Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots is the youth-led community action and learning program of the Jane Goodall Institute. The program builds on the legacy and vision of Dr. Jane Goodall to place the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people. Through the program, young people map their community to identify specific challenges their neighborhoods face.  From there, they prioritize the problems, develop a plan for a solution, and take action.

“What you do makes a DIFFERENCE. You have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” ~ Jane Goodall

Service learning projects combine learning goals and community service in ways that can enhance both student growth and the common good. Service learning can help your students become better learners, classmates, and citizens, and can help them make a valuable contribution to their communities.

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This past summer, Roots & Shoots dramatically redesigned their website and the teaching tools they provide for their group leaders. They offered a four week course titled “Turning Learners into Leaders: Empowering Youth Through Service in Education” and I was delighted to have the opportunity to take part. It revitalized my approach to service learning and renewed my enthusiasm for Roots & Shoots.

I discovered that effective service learning emphasizes the following elements:

  • Integrated Learning
  • Community Need
  • Student Voice
  • Collaboration
  • Civic Responsibility
  • Reflection
  • Evaluation

There are many opportunities to engage students in service learning. Read about some of the projects my Roots & Shoots groups have undertaken over the years. I have color coded them to coordinate with the Roots & Shoots formula for success (Get Engaged, Map It, Take Action, and Celebrate).