By Caitlin Cangialosi, Rotary International Programs and Engagement Specialist
Every year, over 350,000 youth participate in Rotary’s youth programs. Yet, until recently, Rotary didn’t have resources that directly engaged them in service, a fact that surprised me when I first began working for Rotary International’s Programs for Young Leaders team in the spring of 2019.
We often encouraged Interactors, RYLA participants, Youth Exchange students, and their mentors to get involved in service – but we heard they needed more guidance on getting started, the type of projects they should do, and effective strategies for engagement.
That’s why I jumped at the chance to work on a new collaboration with the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC), a leading organization in youth engagement, to develop new resources for our youth program participants and their adult advisers.
Using NYLC’s vast skill-set and knowledge, we’ve worked together over the past year to develop new resources using an innovative approach to youth engagement, known as service-learning. Service-learning empower young people to enact real change in their communities by combining community service with learning objectives. It also has been proven to directly contribute to stronger academic performance and understanding of civic responsibility.
Together with NYLC, we created outcome-driven, interactive resources that provide tailored guidance for youth participants and their adult advisers. Here are three things you should know about service-learning:
- It is youth-led. With the guidance of an adult adviser, participants are in charge of their service experience. They learn real-world leadership skills as they conduct a community assessment, develop and implement an action plan, and assess the impact of their service projects.
- It hones youth skills. Service-learning has been proven to help young people develop important life skills like critical thinking, self-management, and leadership.
- It has a lasting impact on communities. Young people learn how to identify and address genuine community needs, enact real change, and ensure sustainable and lasting impacts.
Visit Rotary’s Learning Center to find online courses and interactive workbooks that will help you get started with providing service-learning opportunities for young leaders in your club and district. And share your experience with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.