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National Education Conference Participants Pass Declaration Seek Federal Support for Service-Learning

Posted By Maddy Wegner, Monday, May 6, 2019

On Tues., April 17, more than 400 students, educators, and community partners from across the country passed a declaration to advance federal support for the civic education approach known as “service-learning”. The declaration passed with a unanimous vote during the National Service-Learning Conference held at New Foundations Charter School in northeast Philadelphia.

 

A rousing midday session featured appellate court judge and former first lady of Penn. Marjorie Rendell. She urged conference participants to “Embrace the unexpected call to the duties of citizenship,” referencing the historic 1969 Supreme Court decision that affirmed students’ first amendment rights in schools. That effort was led by 13-year-old Mary Tinker, who wore a black arm band to school protesting the Vietnam War. 

 

Like 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg, these conference participants lead initiatives in their communities and schools that take on issues ranging from the opioid epidemic to the achievement gap, applying their academic skills to critical needs. 

 

As the Declaration reads: “The needs of the Nation and the world are not only for an educated, high technology work-force, but a socially cohesive, service-oriented citizenry. Young people are necessary resources to society with inherent ideals, boundless energy, and flexibility making them important co-creators and co-workers with older adults. Therefore, we hereby affirm the need for service-learning as called for in The National and Community Service Act and respectfully call for The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service to stand boldly in support of service-learning for all ages, all communities, and places of learning.”

 

The declaration now moves to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCOS) in preparation for a final report to Congress and the President. The final report will detail policy proposals submitted by citizens and citizen service organizations supporting participation in military, national, and public service.Over the next year, NCOS is providing the public with an opportunity to comment on these and other policy proposals. (The final report will be submitted by March, 2020.)

 

To ensure politicians are hearing from champions of national service and service-learning, please consider endorsing this declaration in your response to NCOS and/or creating one of your own.

Fill out an online comment form here: https://www.inspire2serve.gov/content/share-your-thoughtsor send comments via email.

Tags:  national service  service-learning 

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How to Make Teens Safe and Responsible Drivers

Posted By Azhar Mirza, Monday, May 6, 2019

Being able to legally drive is every teenager’s dream. It is an achievement that gives them a sense of independence. It is an exciting milestone, even for parents. However, it cannot be denied that driving comes with risks which make dads and moms repeatedly re-evaluate if their child is truly ready for the road. Further exacerbating their worry is the high number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers.

Motor vehicle accident is the top cause of teen deaths in the US and all over the world. According to a report from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), 6 teens belonging to the 16-19 age group died every day in 2016 because of car crashes. Furthermore, male teenage drivers are more prone to accidents than female teenage drivers. In 2016, the number of deaths among male teen drivers due to road traffic accidents was twice that of females.  

Why Are Car Crash Incidents High in Teens?

Studies show that lack of experience is the top reason why incidents of car crashes are high in teenage drivers. A testament to this is a report stating that teens tend to get embroiled in road traffic accidents just a few months after getting their license. Moreover, fatal motor vehicle crashes are more prevalent in teens in the 16-17 cohort (where newly licensed teens often belong to) than in the 18-19 age group.

Driving is a complex task which demands practice for one to become better at it. Despite having the know-hows and fundamental skills, newly licensed drivers have not had enough experience driving under various conditions and situations. Hence, even if they’ve been taught how to properly handle dangerous circumstances, they can easily get rattled and fail to apply what they’ve learned.

Their immaturity also contributes to the problem. Being young and adventurous, teenagers tend to engage in a lot of risky behaviors, from speeding to not wearing their seat belts. They even do distracting activities while driving like eating, texting, talking on the phone and interacting with passengers, among others.

In 2017, distracted driving accounted for 3000 deaths in the US. According to the CDC, 9 people die each day because of distracted drivers who are mostly under 20 years old. What’s more is that over 50% of severe motor vehicle accidents are due to distracted teen drivers.

Of the different kinds of distracting behaviors involving the use of mobile devices, texting is noted to be the most dangerous one. The risk of crashing goes up 23 times when teenagers are texting while driving. Why is this the case? All three types of distractions are present in this activity. There is manual distraction since the driver’s hand or hands are off the wheel and on the phone. Visual distraction is also present as the driver’s eyes are on the screen of the device and not on the road. Lastly, there is cognitive distraction – the driver’s mind is not focused on driving but is instead on crafting a message. 

The unfortunate news is that a lot of teens text and drive. One research reveals that over 30% of teenagers in the US text while they are behind the wheel. In addition, in states where a learner’s permit is given at 15 or younger, over 50% of teen drivers engage in this risky behavior.

How to Keep Teen Drivers Safe

Ensuring the safety of teen drivers is an endeavor which requires the participation of various stakeholders – the government, parents, schools and youth organizations, to name a few. 

Fortunately, there are government-led initiatives to minimize accidents involving teenage drivers. Currently, Washington D.C. and 47 states prohibit texting while driving. Meanwhile, using handheld devices while a person is behind the wheel is banned in Washington D.C. and 16 states. 

In addition, teen drivers from all over the country now have to adhere to a strict requirement before they can get their learner’s permit or full-privilege license. For one, there is the implementation of the graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems. In all states, the program includes three stages; however, the rules and enforcement vary per location. Case in point, in California, teens intending to get their intermediate or restricted license need to complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving. Meanwhile, in Arkansas, there is no minimum number of hours required for supervised driving.

GDL systems are implemented to enable teenagers to develop their driving skills. This is done by letting them gain more driving experience but under less risky situations, i.e., limiting their nighttime driving privilege and the number of passengers they can have in the car. All in all, the main goal of the GDL systems or laws is to reduce traffic accidents involving teens. So far, this approach has been very effective with studies showing that the implementation of GDL systems has reduced car crashes involving teenage drivers by 30% on the average.

Some states have also made it mandatory for teenagers to take drivers educationclasses. In these places, it is no longer enough that parents take the lead in teaching their kids how to drive. Teenagers need to complete a DMV-approved drivers ed course to be eligible to take the licensing test. Why is there a need for this requirement? There are empirical data showing that drivers education helps prevent incidents of car crashes among teenage drivers. One study stated that it reduced traffic tickets received by teens by as much as 40%. These positive results are attributed to the fact that DMV-approved courses are designed to equip teenagers with the knowledge and skills they need to become safe drivers and not just to past their licensing exam.

Clearly, these government-led initiatives are commendable; however, they are not enough. The government alone cannot minimize accidents due to teenage drivers. Other concerned parties need to participate in this endeavor. Parents, for one, need to set a good example. After all, they are their children’s first teachers. Even before they are eligible to get their learner’s permit, teens have surely picked up some driving knowledge or techniques whenever they ride with their parents. 

In addition, parents should make it their priority to find a reputable driving school for their kids. It also wouldn’t hurt if they give their teens extra driving practice time. The mandatory number of hours for hands-on training set by the DMV is 10 hours or less. This is not enough since research shows that a person needs at least 50 hours of driving to become a proficient driver. 

Meanwhile, schools and youth organizations could help disseminate information on teen driver safety. They can hold lectures or workshops on how young drivers could avoid road traffic accidents. They can also provide resources teens could use to become safe and responsible drivers. 

Tags:  teen driver safety 

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Beyond the Walls of the Classroom

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on January 21st, 2019 on nylc.org.)

By: Joy Mazur 

A senior year English class is usually filled with college essay writing, novel reading, and research practice. However, students in the Morris Hills Regional District’s new Service-Learning course are developing their college readiness in a different way–through investigating genuine community needs and applying their academic knowledge and skills to meet those needs.

Service-Learning teams at Morris Knolls are currently planning projects based on student-chosen topics, focused on raising awareness of veterans’ issues, the benefits of training your pet to be a therapy animal, advocacy and support for people experiencing homelessness, and fighting stigma associated with mental health issues. They have developed community partnerships within the school as well as with local organizations such as Creature Comfort Pet Therapy and Family Promise of Morris County. Morris Hills Service-Learning teams are designing and implementing a new way for students to choose tutors through a website they created, running after-school seminars and meetings at retirement homes to lessen the communication divide between generations, and organizing a clubs/sports fair for to help 8th grade students feel excited and more comfortable coming into their freshman year.  In addition to these ongoing projects, students will develop individual or small group projects during the second half of the school year.

“I have learned many things that I would’ve missed out on if I hadn’t taken Service-Learning. Unlike our other classes, it throws us into the world. I’m thankful that this course was added to Morris Knolls and that I am able to be a part of it.” – Senior Iara Vellaro 

The Service-Learning course is based on a framework developed by the National Youth Leadership Council, which follows the IPARD cycle: Investigation and Research, Planning and Preparation, Action, Reflection, and Demonstration. Students are expected to research and become experts in their field of concern, and determine community needs through interviewing stakeholders before beginning their planning phase in collaboration with a community partner. The Action phase may take place through direct service, indirect service, or advocacy. They must also create a sustainability plan, outlining how their project can be replicated or carried on in the future.

The students are the Project Managers, and hold leadership roles in Outreach, Budget, and Research. In order to be successful, they must collaborate, communicate, and problem-solve when things don’t go according to plan. I have seen them make great leaps in their confidence through taking on this responsibility.

In order to enroll in the course, which can fulfill the MHRD 12th grade English requirement due to its focus on research, writing, and communication skills, students apply during the winter of their Junior year. The application process includes a personal statement, recommendations from a school counselor and a teacher, and a group interview. Thirty-two students at Knolls and twenty-one students at Hills were accepted for Service Learning’s pilot year.

Morris Knolls Principal Ryan MacNaughton is happy with the new course so far. He has been interviewed as a stakeholder by several student teams during the Investigation phase of their projects, and says the students “have been a pleasure to work with. Ms. Mazur is doing some amazing work with our students and I am so pleased with the success of the program.” Morris Hills principal Todd Toriello agrees, adding that students “are learning first-hand the importance of giving back to one’s community. Through authentic learning experiences, students are exploring local community-identified needs as well as the historical and philosophical roots of service.”

Dominique Tornabe, Director of Development and Community Relations for Family Promise of Morris County, describes her time working with a team of Morris Knolls Service-Learning students as “incredibly impactful” and commented about the course, “In addition to teaching empathy and compassion, it develops the critical thinking and problem solving skills required for leadership in the 21st Century and beyond.” As Service-Learning student Luke Nienstadt observed, “The goals we are trying to achieve go way beyond the walls of the classroom.”

Tags:  college readiness  community engagement  english  featured  IPARD  research  service-learning 

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Global Event: 100 Million Campaign

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on November 12th, 2018 on nylc.org.)

NYLC is pleased to invite you to take part in an inspiring global event connecting young people and decision-makers across the world. Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi and the National Youth Leadership Council are supporting a week of global action, taking place internationally the 12th–18th November, that will see parliamentarians, local officials and representatives visit schools to learn with students about the 100 million most marginalized children and be part of an international film screening for social change.
 
Schools will also have the chance to screen the new award-winning film, THE PRICE OF FREE, throughout November for free. This new documentary follows the true stories of children rescued from child labor in India and their journey to freedom.  As part of the film’s commitment to young people, schools around the world will be able to screen it for free, two weeks before its official release. Watch the documentary trailer here (password is pmprice).
 
By taking part in the week of global action your school will be able to:

  • Join thousands of schools across the globe for the international release of the award-winning documentary streaming online in November. 
  • Support students in their school to be active citizens, sharing their passion and ideas for a better world directly to decision-makers, learning about the 100 million children still denied their right to be free, safe, and educated.
  • Help encourage students to think of other young people in their community, their country and around the world increasing global understanding and compassion.

If you are interested in taking part, please email shasti@100million.org for more information. A school pack with all of the details for the screening and ideas for lesson plans can be found here and the Speak Truth To Power lesson that features Kailash can be found here. We hope you are inspired to join schools around the world and help strengthen global compassion and understanding.

Tags:  events  Nobel Laureate  Nobel Peace Prize  professional development  youth leadership  youth voice 

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Nurturing Learners, Growing Leaders

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on November 12th, 2018 on nylc.org.)

Each year the National Service-Learning Conference brings together more than 600 educators, administrators, higher-education faculty, non-profit leaders, government officials, AmeriCorps members, and students from across the nation and around the world for three days of learning, connection, and inspiration. The 30thAnnual National Service-Learning Conference will take place April 14 – 16, 2019 in Philadelphia, P.A.

This year, the National Service-Learning Conference is excited to partner with New Foundations Charter School for Nurturing Learners, Growing Leaders.  “We are thrilled to serve as the host school for the National Service-Learning Conference. Keeping schools as the heart of the community is important to education and we work hard every day at NFCS to ensure we serve our larger community,” Shira Woolf-Cohen, Principal.  It’s a theme that connects educators and community members joining in partnership with students, to make positive change in the world.

The conference provides more than 100 hands-on learning opportunities through workshops, keynote and thought leader sessions. Topics range from social-emotional learning and civic education to youth leadership and international service-learning. Whether you are new to service-learning or an experienced practitioner, this conference has something for you. A Rookie series offers introductory sessions on the practice of service-learning while the research and thought leader sessions will engage even the most seasoned professional.

Networking is a key component of the conference with dedicated opportunities to meet and interact with other attendees from your region or from across the world. Evening receptions, exhibit hall times, lunches, and breakfasts are spaces designed for you to make connections that will advance your practice and inspire you to take-action.

The National Service-Learning Conference prides itself on student participation at every level. Students make up nearly half of conference attendees and can be found on the plenary stage, facilitating workshop sessions, showcasing their projects, participating in hands-on service projects, or mingling in the youth room. Youth of all ages are welcome at the event (with an adult mentor).

Mark your calendars today with these important deadlines:

  • Got something important to impart? Submit a workshop proposal.Deadline is November 23, midnight CST.
  • Showcase an amazing service-learning project. Deadline is February 22, midnight CST.

We look forward to welcoming you to Philadelphia. We guarantee this is a conference you won’t want to miss.

Tags:  events  featured  professional development  service-learning  youth leadership  youth voice 

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Teams Named to Project Ignition: Leading Change in Teen Driving Behavior

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on October 26th, 2018 on nylc.org.)

Sixteen teams have been selected from throughout the United States as a leader in teen driver safety by Project Ignition— a service-learning teen driver safety program in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and coordinated by the National Youth Leadership Council®

Each team will receive a $1,000 grant to implement a safe driving program that engages their peers, family, and the larger community in safe driving practices like buckling up. Carmen Devita of Central Coast of California Camp Fireshares an important aspect of how Project Ignition works, “As one person, you can’t do much. If we all unite for a cause, we can do so much more.”

NYLC believes that youth leadership is a critical component to effectively changing teen driving behaviors and saving lives. “Students are in the best position to address issues of driver safety,” said Amy Meuers, NYLC CEO. “Through Project Ignition, these young people are saving the lives of their peers, their families, and their community members because they are in the best position to influence behaviors and decision-making at critical moments—especially before they operate a moving vehicle. We champion the leadership that youth have to make a positive impact on the world.”

In addition, two teams will receive funding to participate in the 30th Annual National Service-Learning Conference®, hosted by NYLC on April 15 – 16, 2019 in Philadelphia, P.A., where they will have the opportunity to showcase their work to other students, educators, and thought leaders in the education field. The sixteen 2018-2019 Project Ignition teams are:

  1. Making Dreams Come True, Valley of Rainbows, Waianae, Hawaii
  2. Success Academy, Bloomington, Minnesota
  3. Camp Fire Patuxent Area, Bowie, Maryland
  4. Gillespie High School, Gillespie, Illinois
  5. Scully Serves, Seattle, Washington
  6. Jackson Indepent School, Jackson, Kentucky
  7. Clifton Central High School, Clifton, Illinois
  8. Global Girls, Inc., Chicago Illinois
  9. Belton High School, Belton, Missouri
  10. Camp Fire Sunshine, Lakeland, Florida
  11. Ridgemont FFA , Mt. Victory, Ohio
  12. New Castle Area School District, New Castle, Pennsylvania
  13. Camp Fire Central Coast of California, Pismo Beach, California
  14. Camp fire C New Jersey, Trenton, New Jersey
  15. Clarksville High School, Clarksville, Tennessee
  16. District 191, Saint Paul, Minnesota

There is still time for your school or after-school organization to join us in taking action on Global Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being by tacking safe-driving behaviors in your community.  Learn more about Project Ignition and how your team can become part of Project Ignition Nation!

Tags:  featured  Global Goal 3  peer-to-peer education  safe driving  service-learning  teen driver safety  teen driver safety week 

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Service-Learning October Digest 2018

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on October 10, 2018 on nylc.org.)

Fall is here and school is back in session. That means service-learning is off and running in classrooms and afterschool programs across the world. Check out some of the great happenings from the past month. Got a program you want to share? Send us an email at nylcweb@nylc.org!

Service Learning Day part of larger focus

On Sept. 18, Ellsworth High School had its annual “Day of Service” event in which students and staff are involved in various service learning activities around the community and in the middle school and elementary school classrooms. This has traditionally been a senior activity but was expanded to include all students this year.

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Service learning success

Sixth graders drop donation boxes around town

If you’ve been shopping in Big Sky this month, you may have noticed colorful donation receptacles popping up around town. If you haven’t, take a closer look—the donation containers were created by Ms. Kayte Cole’s sixth grade homeroom students as a way for them to learn about local nonprofits and the unique satisfaction that comes from giving back to the community.

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Teacher launches her ‘dream’ class where ninth grade students learn through service

This semester, the teacher behind the first service-learning, public high school class in North Carolina is launching a new course for ninth grade students.

Teaching lessons in the classroom and out in the broader world, service learning allows students to use academic knowledge and skills to fix a community problem.

“It’s been my dream to have this program for the last three years,” said Elizabeth Felts, the teacher and creator of the course at New Hanover High School in Wilmington. “To actually see our freshmen be so excited at 14, 15 years old about serving their community is pretty thrilling to me.”

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4-H Junior Homemakers kick off

The Bell County 4-H Junior Homemakers recently met to kick off the 2018-2019 club year. They enjoyed a painting lesson with FCS Agent Rebecca Miller and learned the 4-H Pledge and all about being a 4-H Club member with 4-H Agent Brandy Calvert. Guest Speaker John Day discussed service-learning opportunities with Community Care Outreach Ministries (CCOM). The 4-Hers plan to take his advice “if you see a need, fill a need.” They will complete two service projects this year.

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Tags:  4-H  day of service  service-learning  youth development 

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Cultural Immersion: A Reflection

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on October 1st, 2018 on nylc.org.)

It’s 4:30am,

I feel so alive that I don’t feel tired anymore,

All I hear is birds chirping,

The cool breeze hits my body and sends chills through my veins,

Goosebumps make the hairs on my arm stand tall,

I prostrate to my lord,

Crying,

Prostrating longer than I’m supposed to,

This moment does not feel real,

This mosque is heaven on earth and I don’t want to leave…

Every day for the rest of my life can be spent in …

…. Turkey,

A place where you can feel the love and peace in the air,

A place where the water current is never stationary,

80 million people with smiles on their faces,

Welcoming all people from different nationalities and races,

A place your taste buds have never tasted,

Where the love is Cherished and never wasted,

The call for prayer is loud and clear,

music to my soul.

First off, I want to thank everyone that made this trip possible for me and for the youth that joined. I am forever thankful to the good-hearted people that took the time, effort and money to put this into play. I would have never known about the other side of the globe that was so beautiful and worth every second of my time if it wasn’t for this trip. It has really empowered me as a Muslim American and I had a great time and the people that came with me knew I had a great time. I tried to soak in as much knowledge as possible and enjoy my time as much as possible too. I really do believe that trips like this with youth can improve relations between Turkey and the United States. You won’t find anything but love in Turkey and I say that because people there will go out of their way to have a conversation with you or even help you out when they do not know you.

Before I went on this trip I studied a bit about Turkey’s economics, its culture, and their way of life.  I found it quite intriguing but reading about a country is not the same as visiting. I was mind blown about their culture and how similar it was to Middle Eastern cultures I was familiar with, I am Palestinian.  I experienced many different artifacts and I loved how the Turks preserved their rich and valuable history. With everything going on in the world right now and the fact that their dollar is being attacked by neighboring Muslim countries, they still remain calm and find a lot of hope in building a Muslim nation in a secular country. I can tell the people of Turkey love their history because throughout every conversation I had with a Turkmen they made sure to stir in some history into the conversation. They name their children after sultans, and influential Islamic leaders that shaped Turkey.

I got the chance to visit many mosques that empowered me as a Muslim adult. To see how vast and big these mosques were and how there were so many of them everywhere really inspired me. Many sultans and powerful Islamic leaders lived, prayed, and taught in these lands and for that reason, as a Muslim American, I feel the need to carry the responsibility of Islam on my shoulders. These sultans and leaders had the power and authority to build huge mosques with four to six minarets shows me how very powerful and influential they were in their times. Something you would not see in the United States.


I believe that by coming on this trip and seeing, feeling, and hearing everything that I did was a great accomplishment. I had the opportunity to experience many things students my age have not experienced. I was able to do things they could not imagine, like praying in huge and beautiful mosques. These mosques had calligraphy from the Ottoman times on their ceilings and walls, it was so powerful. I was able to eat delicious food and really dive into Muslim and Turkish culture.

This trip has shaped my plans for the future. I am currently a business student at Century College, studying International Trade, specifically import and export. This trip has given me new insights on where I can start my career and what countries I could be dealing with in the trade industry. I learned things like what I can and can’t bring to America, what’s profitable and what’s not, and what can help both economies because that’s what trade is for. I definitely believe the trip has opened more doors for me, it was a great learning experience for both my career and my life.

This trip has inspired me to become an active Muslim and has strengthened my faith. I learned that throughout all the secularism that you’re around you should still be the person you want to be.  I want to be the Muslim and I want to be proud of who I am. I want to always strive to be the best person I can be and not worry so much about others’ opinions.  I need to just do the right thing. To take on this weight and knowledge as I return to Minnesota is my responsibility. I hope I can grab the attention of the Muslim community as this is also my responsibility. We Muslims need to unite and help each other hand in hand to raise awareness of who we really are and what it means to be a Muslim. We might have our careers, jobs, and life pressures but must also pay attention to how we use our resources, knowledge and careers to strengthen our community.

Tags:  events  reflection  youth leadership 

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Reflections on Justice in Action

Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

(This article was originally posted on April 16th, 2018 on nylc.org.)

by Ananya Singh, NYLC Youth Advisory Council Member

I’ve been involved with NYLC by serving on their Youth Advisory Council (YAC), a team of servant leaders (pictured above) from across the country that advises NYLC on its programming and brings valuable youth perspectives to the organization’s work.

Over the past two years, I’ve gotten so many incredible opportunities through NYLC, including: 

  • co-developing and co-facilitating educator trainings
  • working on a marketing + outreach committee
  • being on staff at the national youth leadership training

  • Most recently, I attended the 26th annual National Service-Learning Conference, JUSTICE IN ACTION, hosted by NYLC in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was highly involved in many different aspects of it. I am so excited to share my reflections on this amazing experience.

    Educator Institute

     Before the actual conference, I got to spend two days with a group of teachers and administrators, co-facilitating a training about service-learning with NYLC staff. I got to share my perspectives as a young person, and I learned so much about what it takes to be a teacher, and how much goes into the planning!


    It was hard (but rewarding!) work, for both the attendees and the facilitators. It was cool to see how everyone planned to bring high quality service-learning into their own schools and class- rooms.

    The group included educators from California, Alaska, and even the U.K. There were so many awesome conversations and new connections being made! It was so cool to be there!

    Plenary Speech

     Definitely one of my highlights of the conference was that I got the chance to speak on the plenary stage, in front of the everyone. It was certainly nerve wracking, but I actually enjoyed it! I talked about my experience with education, what education equity means to me, and my vision for a world with education. I spent so much time in the previous month fleshing out all the different ideas and possibilities, but I was making edits and revising up until the day before! I decided to mostly speak from the heart, but I kept up with the general structure I had planned. I felt really good after I finally finished, and I received so many amazing responses from everyone afterwards, it was amazing! I’m really glad that I took the opportunity, and I hope my public speaking will only get better from here!

    Youth Room

    Another role I took on at the conference was being the chair of the Youth Room committee, which meant I got to coordinate a speed-networking event and a dance party. We went with a jungle theme, and I picked out some decorations and (in my opinion) some great food options, including a pretty sweet candy bar and some healthy options! We also got our hands on a giant Connect Four, and giant Jenga, which were awesome. It was so fun to just bring people together and have a good time with my fellow YAC members. It was also great experience with event planning, and I learned more about decision making, delegating, and reaching out for help when I needed it.

    Day of Service

    Something that makes the National Service-Learning really special is that after the workshops and sessions are over, we have a day of service to go into the community and bring our discussions about service into action! My site for the day of service was the Twin Cities YMCA Equity Innovation Lab. It’s a newly designed center and we got to tour around and see the building. It was so well designed, from the architecture to the workspace layouts, to the furniture choice. I got the chance to really get into conversations with people as we worked on our service project, which was writing cards for the YMCA’s international partners. We learned all about how the YMCA actually has very different perceptions across the world; it’s not necessarily the gym and swim centers that we think about. It’s hostels and community support, and so many different things! Making the cards was perfectly up my alley, but I think the most important part of the day of service was the new friends and getting inspiration from the space!

    In Summary

    I got to do even more, over the course of the whole conference. I presented a workshop with tips to get involved in your community with politics, which went well! I helped staff the registration desk and talked to lots of new people from across the world, even from Singapore and Taiwan! I had conversations with different sponsors and exhibitors and was thoroughly impressed by how many great things are going on in the service field!

    I attended several workshops and sessions and got lots of new ideas about service-learning and education. One of my absolute favorites was the Gathering of Elders, which was a two-hour session where elders shared wisdom they had gathered through their experiences with life. Their stories were so raw and authentic and impactful, yet still uplifting. I also heard some really awesome speeches during the plenary stage sessions.

    Some of the best moments were also just hanging out with the rest of the YAC, and there’s always so much I learn from spending time with them! We got to see downtown St. Paul, which was a nice area set right by the Mississippi River.

    Overall, it was a crazy, busy, exhausting week, but an extremely inspiring, truly awesome experience that I am so grateful for!

    Tags:  community action  day of service  educator institute  justice in action  service-learning 

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    Talking Turkey

    Posted By NYLC, Sunday, April 7, 2019

    (This article was originally posted on April 4th, 2018 on nylc.org.)

    By: Amy Meuers, NYLC CEO

    I had the honor to speak at the Japanese Conference on Philanthropic Education on Saturday, March 17 at Komazawa University, Tokyo. Japan has placed great emphasis on peace education ever since WWII including the incorporation of it in their 9th grade civics classes and in their constitution under Article 9. My participation in the conference was to share how service-learning is a way for students to be active participants in their own education. My desire was to show that when students discover the positive impact they can have in the world – that is when the real learning occurs.

    At NYLC, we envision a world where all young people become civically informed and engaged global citizens by participating in service-learning as part of their educational experience. We work with educators (both in the classroom or after school), students, community leaders, and businesses to incorporate peace, justice, and sustainability into the fabric of all education systems by asking students to be of service to their community as part of their educational experience –to learn, lead, and grow through service-learning.

    Successful service-learning projects are tied to specific learning objectives, and many of the best are tied to numerous areas of study. For example, when seventh- and eighth-graders studied the historical significance of a local river, they developed projects to build nature trails, tested water samples, documented contamination of the local habitat, and restored historical sites. Their teachers connected those activities to studies in earth science, mathematics, language arts, physical education, music, visual arts, and social studies. These connections not only deepened the impact projects had on learning, but also provided the young people with a broader understanding of how different subjects are interrelated. Service-learning helps students make connections to learning outside the classroom. It is hands-on learning but most importantly, it connects to community and empowers each student to lead change.

    The 20th century educator, John Dewey is the founding father of service-learning. It is based on his central tenets of experience and democracy. He wanted to see students experience education. He said, “When the school introduces and trains each child of society into membership within such a little community, saturating him with the spirit of service, and providing him with instruments of effective self-direction, we shall have the deepest and best guarantee of a larger society which is worthy, lovely and harmonious.” Dewey wasn’t the only educator who felt this way. Progressive activist Jane Addams, Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, and Mahatma Gandhi all envisioned education rooted in community and democratic principles.

     It (education) “either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes ‘the practice of freedom,’ the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” -Paulo Freire

    Transforming the world –powerful stuff. Service-learning encourages students to not only dream of a better future but to create it. It is democracy in action.

    As an organization, NYLC has been a champion, a resource, and a contributor to the field of service-learning whether in the United States or in countries around the world. We see ALL young people as active contributors to society, and schools a place where students can act as resources, be active in the learning process, not passive. A place where they produce or contribute to the world, not just a place where they consume. We want all young people to see themselves as someone who can give, lead, and learn. We know that all young people, no matter their background, their abilities, can be leaders through service-learning. It was an honor to bring the tenants of service-learning to Japan and share the tools and resources that have been developed with the educators and students who are passionate about creating a better world for us all.

    Tags:  Japan  service-learning  youth development  youth leadership 

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