What is Service Learning?
According to the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, “Service-learning is a teaching and learning method that connects meaningful community service experiences with academic learning, personal growth, and civic responsibility.”
Service learning connects students with the real world, and its implications are greatly beneficial to youth. Students who are exposed to real-life circumstances that encourage civic responsibility, career exploration, and personal growth are more likely to stay in school and move towards a more fulfilling future.
“Civic engagement is very important. We all live here together and we need to look out for one another.” – Elizabeth Goreham
Students who become more involved in society have the opportunity to develop a greater sense of purpose and connection with others. Schools and programs can help encourage students to volunteer in and out of school. Within the school system there are usually opportunities for students to mentor or tutor someone younger, helping to develop their own abilities to teach and become a positive role model.
Outside of school, students can volunteer at local groups and nonprofit organizations that offer services to the community. This gives them the chance to experience firsthand the power of helping others in less fortunate situations, and to observe the workings of a nonprofit organization.
Through service learning, a young adult may discover a passion for social work, protecting the environment, or advocating for a group or cause that resonates with them.
“Find what you’re good at, become excellent at it, and pursue opportunities where those skills are in demand.” – Eric Sinoway
Spending time in an area of interest can help a student make better choices as they approach graduation. There are many ways to explore different career paths, including working an intern over summer break, in-person volunteering for community projects and events, or shadowing someone in a service organization related to an area of interest.
For example: A student may have dreams of becoming a doctor. However, when he volunteers at a blood drive, he realizes that the sight of blood makes him feel faint. He quickly realizes that his dream is not really suitable to his personality. On the flip side, he is drawn towards the marketing team that is gathering content for social media to promote the blood drive. During the course of the event he uncovers a passion for photography and design, changing his academic focus in response.
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” – Lao Tzu
It is widely recognized that volunteering helps not only the person receiving assistance, but the volunteer as well. Helping others develops compassion and empathy, two important qualities that build character and self-esteem.
When a student volunteers, she also learns how to be a leader and to work within a team, and improves communication skills that will be used throughout her life. Helping others can also promote spiritual growth and provide a sense of purpose.
Communities In Schools of Jacksonville works to connect local youth to caring adults in the community through after-school and literacy programming. Visit our site to learn how you can make a difference in a child's life by becoming a mentor or donating to CIS of Jacksonville.