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?