Getting Young People Involved in Community Service

Urban youth are often stereotyped as hoodlums who are involved in gangs, use drugs and basically just hang out looking for trouble. The truth is that the majority of young people in big cities are working hard to make their dreams a reality but for some, it is a struggle. Unfortunately, some have given up.

Young people in inner cities can benefit from contributing to the community through volunteer work. School staff can play a major role in motivating or even requiring students to commit to community service. The sports teams can require a certain number of hours of community service in order to continue on the team. Schools can award a credit for community service. Clubs in the school can make community service a part of their agenda. Students in bands, choirs and dance classes can show off their talents to the residents of nursing homes and to those in temporary housing. English classes can do poetry readings. Students will find fulfillment in these activities and with encouragement, they may continue to do community service on their own.

Clubs can be set up in the school integrating community service as part of their agenda. A gardening club can spend some time beautifying the local parks and playgrounds. The faculty advisers can cooperate with each other so that their students will be involved in walks for breast cancer, AIDS, M.S., Muscular Dystrophy, and all the other cause which sponsor races and mini-marathons. Clean up crews can be assembled to clean the parks and public buildings on Earth Day.

For those young people who are not an active part of the school community, efforts can be made through community organizations to reach out to them. Referrals can be made through truant officers and attendance teachers. Churches, synagogues and mosques can also reach out to young people and motivate them to get involved in service. For these teenagers, it could be the beginning step to building self esteem and eventually lead them back to active involvement in school and preparation for the future. Community service activities will broaden their horizons and maybe they will find themselves doing something they love which will motivate them to pursue that activity as a career.

We cannot forget the role that parents can play in involving their children in service. Parents may have their own causes which they support and the children can get involved in volunteering for those particular causes. Families as a unit can volunteer at soup kitchens and homeless shelters not just during the holidays but throughout the year. Parents may become more active in service themselves as they try to involve their children.

There are many ways to involve urban youth but it requires a commitment from school personnel, community organizations and religious institutions. Getting involved in community service can be a turning point for struggling teens and it will give every teen a stronger sense of self worth and personal fulfillment. Write your article here