Youth aren't waiting for the call to serve --they are ready to make their mark today. This last weekend, young people around the world celebrated Global Youth Service Day
in 100 countries on six continents as children, teens, and young adults demonstrated why they are the most service-oriented generations ever.
“Global Youth Service Day is the time when young people are recognized not as the leaders of tomorrow, but as the leaders of today,” said Steven A. Culbertson, president and CEO of Youth Service America, the event organizer. “With passion, creativity and fresh perspective, young people are uniquely positioned to come up with new and innovative ways to improve their communities.”
Thousands of youth-focused projects -- nearly 2,500 in the United States alone -- showed the power of youth ages 6-25 as they tackled some of the most critical national and global issues like literacy, environmental stewardship, and childhood health.
Global Youth Service Day projects took place in every state in the United States, and many were led by AmeriCorps members. Here's a sampling of the weekend's events.
- Nebraska Stand for the Silent Day
More than 50,000 students and youth across Nebraska made a personal pledge to take a stand against bullying and paused for seven seconds of silence, marking how often a child is bullied in the U.S. This initiative was organized by RISE AmeriCorps member Heather Millard through her involvement on the ServeNebraska InterCorps Council.
- North Carolina Day of Reading
North Carolina LiteracyCorps AmeriCorps members at the Literacy Council of Wake County held a youth-led Literacy Fair, which included circle time reading, bookmark making, and a book distribution. Similar literacy fair events took place in other parts of the state.
- Down on the Farm in Arizona
Volunteer Southern Arizona gave youth two chances to get their hands dirty over the weekend at local farms managed by the Community Food Bank. Participants learned about native species, helped compost, and built worm bins.
- Ultimate Field Day
AmeriCorps Project YES! hosted the third-annual Ultimate Field Day at Pulaski Park in Chicago. The event had a Summer Olympics theme and was open to students in the first through eighth grades.
- Atlanta Gets Green
Hands On Atlanta attracted more than 1,500 volunteers to work on more than 30 projects that addressed environmental issues including park beautification, community gardening, and wetlands conservation.
More than 2 million youth participated in Global Youth Service Day events and projects, and the countdown to next year's event April 26-28, 2013, had already begun.
A few years ago, as I began to travel around the country and talk to all sorts of people, one set of stories always tugged at my heart.They took my breath away.They inspired me.And they motivated me to learn more.They were stories of strength, courage, and patriotism that define our nation's military families. And I know that Fayetteville is filled with them.
For many, knowing the relationship between natural disasters and volunteers is limited to response and recovery. It conjures up images of volunteers pulling survivors from rubble, sorting through debris, delivering supplies, consoling victims, and rebuilding communities. But service and volunteerism has a place in disasters long before one actually hits; much can be done in terms of preparation and readiness.