~ By Brooke
Global Youth Service Day is just around the corner, on April 26th. This event started as National Youth Service Day in 1988 and evolved into a global effort in 2000. Organized by Youth Service America and the National Youth Leadership Council, this is a day when youth from across the world unite to become a positive force, volunteering where they can to enhance their community. For example, this year groups in my hometown, Arlington, Texas, will join together for a weekend of service, assisting with the Special Olympics, participating in a “lock in” to learn about real-life skills that can be helpful in making important decisions, and painting a mural that will depict “positive and educational images,” in following with their PRIDE movement (Promise, Resources, Involvement, Determination and Education). Meanwhile, across the world, youth and other volunteers in Bagmati, Nepal have organized a four-day dental camp, bringing dental care to local residents, orphanages, homes and schools. As you can see, no task is too great or too small for this day. Aside from the obvious benefit to the community, the Global Youth Service Day opens the door for improvements in the lives of youth as well.
The Global Youth Service Day provides an opportunity for teens to work among varying populations, exploring different cultures, ways of life, and socioeconomic situations. In working with people from different walks of life, youth can develop a broader sense of the world. Teens themselves reported this as a benefit in The Independent Sector’s “America’s Teenage Volunteers” survey of youth volunteers. Additionally, the worldwide collaboration of youth to improve, not just their local neighborhoods, but the world as a whole is a hopeful sign. In a time where political differences cause strife for so many, it is this united force of good in the world which instills in many a sense of a hope and positivity.
If you are considering assisting youth to organize a service project, it’s not too late! There are many different types of projects. The projects range from a group of deaf teens in California volunteering to do basic home repairs for elderly residents who are also deaf to a cleanup project by teens in Hartford, Connecticut. They will be spending the day cleaning a neighborhood park. Also, many groups welcome additional youth, so it is always possible to join an already planned project. Feel free to peruse any of the resources listed below as you plan for this year…or even next year!