Self Esteem, Community Service and Empowerment – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of this article, I presented the rationale and keys for success to create a school community service program. As stated, organizing community service projects allows students to participate in the group process of cooperative learning, conflict resolution, critical thinking and problem solving. Students enhance self esteem through experience. Consequently, self esteem becomes earned esteem. Part 2 is a description of the two components of a successful community service program.

Two components of a successful community service program

o One component of the program could be integrated into the school day. Examples of successful community service projects integrated into the school day are trips to a soup kitchen, working with a kindertime program for pre-school children and collections for needy causes. These could be scheduled monthly by teams or groups of classrooms.

o There could also be an after-school component of the program that would involve a weekly commitment by students for a specified number of months.

Members who join the after-school program would divide into several groups. The individual groups would have brainstorming sessions concerning community service project selections that would allow students to practice interpersonal skills and build relationships.

1. Service project ideas are limitless and depend on the creativity and interests of the groups.

2. Each group designs its own year-long program and the organization experience provides a learning that involves decision-making skills, communication skills and the process of working within a system.

3. Each group creates its own name and selects four to six community service projects to be completed during the school year after school.

4. Chosen group names would reflect the community service mission for individual groups and could be an acronym. Following are examples of actual names used by middle school students:

o P.R.O. (People Reaching Out)

o S.U.N.S.H.I.N.E. (Students Unite Nations)

o C.A.R.S (Caring and Respectful Students)

o S.M.I.L.E. (Students Making Individuals Laugh Everyday)

o H.O.P.S.C.O.T.C.H. (Helping Other People Simply Cause Our Touch Can Heal)

Develop partnerships with the community. In my personal situation, we developed an on-going working relationship with a nursing home, a center for mentally-challenged adults, a day care center, a pre-school program, a community pediatrics health center and a soup kitchen.

The lesson of responsible active citizenship is the intention of all the community service project experiences and ideas create change becomes the principle of active citizenship. Let your students be your heroes. Your young student activists can make a difference in our world. I share this as a proud teacher who has observed dedicated young people who are remarkable as role models for their peers, their teachers, their families and their community.

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