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Motivating Students to Serve

One morning after having worked with this particular class of high school students for about a month, I asked them, “what could you do to make your community a better place?”  The responses that came back surprised me. “I don’t care about this community.” “What does this community do for me?” “I hate it here!” “I can’t wait to move away from here.” “F*** this community!”  Wait. What?

This was a decent Florida city near the beach. It wasn’t perfect, but I have been to places that had a lot more problems. I had grown up on the southside of Chicago, for goodness sake, and I had lived in rural Mississippi for the last several years.

So it occurred to me that the one thing I could do was find out what the students hated so much about their community and see if they could do anything to make those things better.

So I had them brainstorm about some of the things that they didn’t like. This was especially effective when students made very negative comments about their school. Maybe they didn’t like their school lunches, or the campus was drab, or students were bullied a lot. It’s amazing to see students unite about an issue and instigate change. I’ve seen students beautify their campus, educate others about bullying and change their school lunch menus – all through service learning.

So how do YOU get youth motivated to serve?


1 Comment

  1. Bonnie says:

    I had a group of youth doing a CSL project for the biggest fund raiser of the year and it was the youths’job to help keep the animals and humans safe. They worked hard, hot and long days, two to be exact. I was worried that they they would never want to do another CSL project. However, when I got on the bus to go home where the youth came to me and said they did not think they were smart enough to do anything like this. They said today was one of the best days of their lives. As of trying to the tears, she states, “when can we do this again”. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.


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