I hope I am not making assumptions here, but I feel many of us came into this field wanting to support young people through their some of their most influential years of development. Why not engage them in Service-Learning? At its foundation, Service-Learning enables one to develop critical reflection, deepen sense of understanding on complex causes of social dilemmas, and enhance collaboration.
How to get started:
Let’s start off by brainstorming. Take some time to think about your communities and what is needed. Is there an area that needs a new paint job? An area that needs some cleaning (spring is around the corner)? Are there shelters in need of supplies, money that needs to be raised, food that needs to be distributed? Once we have the idea, how can we engage our clients and colleagues and what we as a unit can offer. I am consistently humbled by the skills, knowledge, and passion of the young people that we are with and am a firm believe that the possibilities are endless. As a general sense of some ideas:
Giving Tree – Food Drive, Shoe Drive, Blanket Drive (Student’s place items under the Christmas Tree and items are donated to the cause of choice)
Shoebox for Soldiers – One box is placed in each classroom to fill up for soldiers.
Community Clean-Up – Do what needs to be done in a community area to clean it up.
Crafts for the Elderly – Create a craft for a nursing home.
Letters – Create letters or cards for patients in the hospital, soldiers, police officers, etc.
Blankets – Create simple tie blankets for a homeless shelter or animal shelter
Teaching – Older kids can teach younger kids about an important topic
Perform – Have students put on a play or music concert in the community
Re-live History – Interview and write reports about the history of your neighborhood
Clinicians, therapist, counselors….I encourage you to bring these ideas into your sessions and work with youth. Parents, caregivers, aunts, uncles, bring these practices inside your homes and families. Let’s develop community together!