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What Is Service-Learning?

A healthy society needs its members to help and care for one another. It requires an acceptance of some measure of responsibility for the welfare of others. One of the most compelling avenues for youth to participate and engage in their communities is through service-learning.

Service-learning projects provide youth with opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning. Through these opportunities, young people can build skills vital to becoming successful adults such as:

  • decision-making
  • leadership
  • collaboration
  • communication
  • evaluation
  • critical thinking
  • application of academic knowledge to real world concerns and issues.

Successful service-learning provides young people with the opportunity to identify a need to be addressed, determine possible solutions, develop a plan of action, follow a sequence of steps to achieve a solution and take time to reflect after each step. Service-learning differs from traditional volunteerism in that reflection is an integral part of its success.

Service-learning needs to engage young people in meaningful and significant service to their school or community. It must give them the opportunity to learn through periods of reflection on their experience along with their action. Service-learning benefits the learner, schools and the community. In the community, valuable service meets formerly unmet needs. Through these experiences, young people become active stakeholders in the community. Schools observe more engaged and motivated learners who become partners in the learning process. Young people gain an increased capacity for action, self-worth, moral development, connection to their community and citizenship and academic skills through their service-learning experiences.

There is no limit to what young people can do; there is no social need that they cannot in some way address. They have the capacity, creativity, energy and willingness to address needs in their community. Young people can take the leadership role and work with adults to address selected needs. Service-learning provides the avenue to address these needs.

For further information on service learning:

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