Archive for the 'Students' Category



What is School-Based Service-Learning?

Recently, a group of young people, ages 11-25, from around the state of Washington defined service-learning as:

Service is…

  • doing something to help someone else.
  • doing something you feel good about.
  • doing something for others even if it doesn’t help you.
  • giving a community contribution.
  • having a commitment to the well-being of the community.
  • strengthening community values.
  • seeing a need and acting on behalf of it.

Learning is…

  • teaching others.
  • understanding something new.
  • being open to knowledge.
  • gaining experience.
  • putting something into your long-term memory.

trial and error.
struggle leading to progress.
character building.

School-Based Service-Learning is…

  • restoring a stream habitat as part of your biology class.
  • using what you are learning in school to help others.
  • writing stories and making books for a Head Start program as part of your English class.
  • painting a mural over an area that usually gets “tagged” by graffiti as part of your art class.



Why Should I Care?


Why Should I Care?

Young people have a wealth of energy, enthusiasm, insight, and creativity to contribute to their communities. However, the media has reinforced negative stereotypes, and society assumes that younger people are apathetic and just don’t care about the issues facing their communities and the nation.

Young people don’t often receive enough support (i.e., transportation) when they do have the desire to join community activities, and they may find themselves asking, “Why should I care?”

The following is a list of reasons developed by young people about being active in the community.

  • (Being involved) makes kids feel special–full of pride. It also makes grown-ups feel good when they work with children.
  • It helps learning become more interesting because you actually get to use it.
  • If you get kids involved now in doing good things for the earth, seven generations from now the world will be a better place. To quote student Josh Keats Sall: “Then in seven generations, we won’t have to wear gas masks.”
    What’s wrong with doing a favor for the world? If you think about it, only half of the people are working for community service. What if EVERYONE was working on community service…It’s a good thought, isn’t it?
  • You will set an example for other people to start helping each other.
  • You will help break stereotypes between young people and adults. When you tell one of your friends that kids/adults are (usually, almost always) great to work with, then they’ll say, “Oh, maybe I’ll try working with them,” and it will catch on.
  • Being active in the community can help with college applications, job applications and/or your resumé. It can connect you to people or situations that lead to friendships, jobs, internships, and a whole new view of your community.
  • You will live longer by being active (medical studies have proven this). It releases “power-morphins” — it gives a natural high!!
  • It beats sleeping in, watching television, or pulling lint out of your belly button.
    Help save the world — care for it.


What Other High School Students Have Done

Health Issues

  • Patrick G. volunteered at the Teen Link Hotline and created a pamphlet on teen suicide. The pamphlet includes steps for intervention with a suicidal person.
  • Brittany J. researched, did observations, and had direct interaction with developmentally delayed children. Through her presentation she made others aware of specific disabilities and how to be more aware of people who have them.
  • Melissa G. and her team created a brochure to educate and recruit volunteers for Hospice, and to educate the general public about their options in Hospice and a related organizations. Their original plan was to compile a book of stories and thoughts of people during the dying process, but found that difficult to accomplish because of the sensitive nature of the subject and the loss of many of the patients before the seniors had a chance to interview them. By changing their project to a brochure to raise awareness of the need for Hospice nurses and volunteers, the team hoped to reach people with a knack for comforting and caring.
  • Courtney G. worked in a therapeutic day care program for kids who had witnessed domestic violence. Her job was to redirect violent behavior in the children.
  • A student studied the issue of domestic abuse through interviews and observation of court cases. She then develop wrote a Public Service Announcement on a local teen radio show, helping other teens understand what they can do when their friends talk about violence in their homes.


  • Jamie H. created a Web site of his culture. While educating others through his site, he learned a lot about his culture and heritage.
  • Jesse M. conducted an eye-opening diversity workshop for middle schoolers. A lesson in tolerance and a boost toward success, the workshop prepared them for the diverse high school environment and the rapidly changing “real world.”
  • One Grants Pass senior created a historical memorabilia display at the school. He interviewed alumni and borrowed memorabilia spanning 60 or 70 years. He made contacts with each person, promising to return the borrowed items in three years.


  • Povanh K. and a partner helped out in a first-grade class at an elementary school. They learned a lot about what it’s like to be a teacher and what they deal with each day.
  • Three football players joined forces to put on a football camp for middle schoolers. One was responsible for promoting the camp, one did a presentation on sportsmanship, and one made a videotape of the camp. They brought in a celebrity football player to make the camp even more memorable.
  • Lindsay K. ran the math tutoring program at a local elementary school. She modified the existing curriculum to suit the needs of a group tutoring session and tutored six kids at a time for five hours a week.
  • A gifted high school swimmer found an Olympic coach who was willing to analyze her strokes and provide specific suggestions for improvement. She then produced a training video for her swim team.


  • Jackson L. volunteered as a Zoo Ambassador at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. He used his experience to design a new exhibit for a Sumatran tiger.
  • A student in Grants Pass, Oregon created a simple fish ladder to help fish migrate to their spawning grounds, a workable answer to a problem that had stumped community adults for years.


  • A senior who enjoyed writing poetry started a poetry circle, where poets from the school and community could gather to read and write. This evolved into a poetry reading at a big theatre in a new building in town.

Community Advocacy

  • Lin Y. is the student member of the Sammamish City Council for his senior project. He sits on the council and advocates for teen issues, including advocating against teen profiling by local police. He also writes a weekly column on teen issues in a local paper as an extension of this project.
  • A student was concerned about the inequality of resources provided by the schools for girls’ sports. She studied the legal requirements of Title IX and then compared the quality of the facilities provided for girls and boys baseball teams. Finding a definite unequal, she developed a presentation to the school board, arguing for improvement of the girls’ softball facilities.
  • A team of seniors established a network between local businesses, corporations, high school students and other community members to refurbish five homes owned by elderly and disabled residents on Make a Difference Day. Their service extended well beyond the day as they raised funds to put in a new well for an elderly couple and spearheaded an effort to fill their new mobile home with furniture – a home anonymously donated because of the students’ efforts.

Quotes from other students:

“I would stress not to be limited to what they can tell you can do. Really be original and try and think of ways to make a really good project. It is your last chance to go out with a bang and give it everything you have.”
“I think people need to choose topics that they are really passionate about. It makes everything so much easier. When you have your speech and your passionate about it, it is s much easier for you to do well on it. Do not choose the easy way out. You will end up having a tougher time doing the project.”
“I went around and handed out flyers in the low-income community. That impacted me quite a bit to see some of the looks on their faces when I would come to the door with this free offer that they would other wise not be able to afford.”
“When I got to interact with people that were victims of domestic violence I learned that it is a serious thing that go on in these peoples lives. I learned how grateful I am, and thankful for the things I have in life. That is what enabled me to learn more about domestic violence.”
“I believe that service learning is definitely a good part in it because it forces you to get out there and get involved in you community. If you did not do this you would be confined to your own area. You would not branch out to other areas that are important. It is important to get involved.”


National Examples of Youth Projects

Freechild Project: Resources for social change by and with young people.

Youth Activism Project: Look to see what others have done!

Do Something: Want an online planning form to guide your thinking?

TakingITGlobal: A place to talk with others on line about your project ideas.


Resources and Support
Who Can Help You Make a Difference?
Hands on Network: Volunteer Centers are conveners for the community, catalysts for social action and key local resources for volunteer involvement. They bring people and community needs together through a range of programs and services based upon community needs, demographic area, population size, and other factors. Find a Volunteer Center near you!

ServiceLink Northwest is a great place to find planning forms, resources for project planning and a searchable database of organizations currently accepting volunteers in the Clark County Washington area.





Resources and Support

Resources and Support

Link to ServiceLink Northwest for planning forms and resources for project planning, and contact information for organizations currently accepting volunteers.
Freechild Project: Resources for social change by and with young people.
Youth Activism Project: Look to see what others have done.
Do Something: Want an online planning form to guide your thinking?
Taking It Global: Talk with others on line about your project ideas.
Idealist Kids and Teens: Contains resources and information on how to start a project to help your local and/or global community. It also includes information about youth volunteering and nonprofit websites for young people dealing with issues like human rights, the environment and the arts.