Stories of Service

Simone Bernstein's Global Youth Service Day Speech

On Global Youth Service Day 2014, youth leader Simone Bernstein delivered a powerful message from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as part of a MONUMENTAL Day of Service: A Celebration of Global Youth Service Day on the National Mall. Her speech is republished here. 

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GYSD Stories of Excellence Countdown: #1

2014_1_stories_of_excellence.jpgShiloh, 14, of California learned from a visually impaired friend that when you lose your sight, you also lose the use of one hand, due to the need to carry a cane or hold a guide dog’s leash. In response, she invented the Haptic Hat, a hands-free obstacle avoidance aid for the visually impaired to detect head and torso level obstacles. On GYSD Shiloh plans to demonstrate her Haptic Hat at the School for Independent Learners and raise funds for further improvements in a fourth prototype. Ultimately, she hopes to create an affordable tool to improve the lives of millions of visually impaired people by making them more independent and safe. Shiloh is a Disney Friends for Change grantee.

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ServiceNation is Changing the World

ServiceNation-logo.pngOn April 11-13th, young people will be given the opportunity to serve their communities. The small opportunity can provide an accessible onramp to service, and support youth on a life-long path of service, learning and civic engagement. Engaging young people in this way -- especially those who are not usually asked to serve -- can be a life-changing experience, not just for the young person, but for our communities and our country as a whole.

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Taking on Marine Debris for GYSD

Love_A_Sea_Turtle_Earth_Day_(25).jpgAs a Floridian I’ve grown up spending time in a variety of marine environments which sparked my interest in ocean conservation at an early age. By participating in environmental community service projects, such as beach cleanups, with my local 4-H club, and by taking part in educational programs and summer camps at Mote Marine Laboratory, I found unique avenues to explore the fascinating world of ocean science, and become involved in hands on conservation projects with other young people who shared my interest. When I was in tenth grade, my work on a dolphin research project, as a High School Intern at Mote Marine Laboratory, allowed me to see first hand the negative impacts of marine debris, specifically improperly disposed of fishing line, on dolphins and other marine wildlife. These experiences heightened my interest in creating opportunities for other young people to learn about the issues associated with marine debris, and to teach them ways to take action in their communities to protect marine wildlife from this growing threat.

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GYSD Stories of Excellence Countdown: #2

2014_2_stories_of_excellence.jpgOn GYSD 2014, two orphanages from the Commewijne district in Suriname will come together and make a huge art mural about "Global Youth". They will paint messages to the youth of the future. The mural will be hung so that everyone who comes there will be able to see it. Besides the mural, the kids will get to have mentoring sessions with such people as a mouth hygienist, an environmentalist and a painter. Here they will learn a lot about these subjects and do fun exercises. At the end of the day, the kids will use everything that they have learned to make "Global Youth" gifts for other children in need, including sick children in hospitals. The youth from the orphanages will have learned how they too can volunteer and give back to the youth of their own community.

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GYSD Stories of Excellence Countdown: #3

2014_3_stories_of_excellence.jpgMorlan O., 15, of Ohio co-founded STEMs For Youth (SFY) to inspire 4th-12th grade students to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers by engaging them in building robots. Due to lack of student interest, Morlan’s school reduced the number of Advanced Placement STEM classes offered. To address this lack of enthusiasm SFY offers after-school classes designed to get students excited – and it is working! More than 80% of the students that have attended SFY events want to pursue STEM subjects and careers. On Global Youth Service Day, SFY will engage approximately 1,000 youth in STEM activities, including the opportunity to program robots to play soccer. Morlan is a Disney Friends for Change grantee.

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GYSD Stories of Excellence Countdown: #4

2014_4_stories_of_excellence.jpgUpon watching the movie Annie, Tara V., 6, of Missouri was moved to help children that don’t have permanent homes. After learning that many children enter foster care with few personal belongings, she vowed to do something. She worked with her kindergarten class to develop Kids Helping Kids, a project to fill backpacks filled with necessitates and comfort items, such as toothpaste, pajamas, and stuffed animals.  Tara and her classmates bags donate stuffed backpacks to Ambassadors for Children for distribution to local children entering foster care.  For Global Youth Service Day, Tara and her class will host a Pack-A-Bag Drive during Community Awareness Week at their school.  In addition to filling backpacks, Tara hopes to bring greater awareness to the community about the needs of children in foster care. Tara is a current Disney Friends for Change grantee.

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GYSD Stories of Excellence Countdown: #5

2014_5_stories_of_excellence.jpgKeith M., 19, chairs the Youth Advisory Board of Lakota Children’s Enrichment, Inc. (LCE), a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the lives of children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and promote awareness about the conditions on American Indian reservations across the country. He believes, "if we can make change with the youth, only then will we improve the community."  By providing opportunities for expression through art, music, writing, sports, leadership and mentorship, LCE aims to motivate youth to excel. For GYSD, LCE will host a muti-day celebration. Day One marks the conclusion of LCE’s Reservation-wide Writing Challenge, which engaged students across the Pine Ridge Reservation (middle school through age 24) to write about the significance of the land, for its VOICES OF THE LAND challenge. Teach for America staff helped promote this writing challenge across the reservation by incorporating it into its classes. On April 12, LCE will conclude GYSD activities through a Reservation-wide Youth Summit, funded in part by State Farm Insurance and run by Keith, where youth will hear from role models on and off the reservation and will participate in a day of service, learning and mentorship activities. Themes will include sustainability, nutrition and the protection of Grandmother Earth.

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GYSD Stories of Excellence Countdown: #6

2014_6_stories_of_excellence.jpgSvitlana B., an alumna of the FLEX program is working with the Black Sea Kayaking School in Crimea to host a Dolphin Watch and Eco Kayaking project to raise awareness in the local community about coastal ecology. On Sunday, April 13, participants will gather for a round table led ecological experts, followed by a kayak trip to Inshir National Reserve. Paddlers will have opportunities to witness Black Sea dolphins. Volunteers will do a beach cleanup and learn about the impact of beach debris on nature. Volunteers will format materials into an educational program for the local community, for use by local universities and the Federation of Sea Kayaking for spring “dolphin watch” eco tours.  Svitlana hopes to motivate local citizens’ enthusiasm for dolphin protection and increase appreciation of coastal living.

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GYSD Stories of Excellence Countdown: #7

2014_7_stories_of_excellence.jpgSeniors at Parkdale High School in Maryland are working with their teacher, Ms. Swift, to change perceptions of why people become homeless and to change the culture of attitudes, treatment, and support of the homeless. Students have planned a year of activities to bring awareness to homelessness in from local, national, and global perspectives. Students will host “Altering Perceptions” as part of the celebration of Global Youth Service Day on the National Mall in Washington, DC. They will create cardboard signs with slogans that encourage people to think differently about homeless people, and display results from their ongoing Semester of Service project such as infographics, interviews, artwork, and poetry. To inspire action, students will take e-Pledges via video, audio, picture, or text, culminating the Twitter campaign that began on the Martin Luther King Day of Service. 

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Choose Your Environmental Project

Some of the most common projects registered on the GYSD map address tough environmental problems.

Projects like Abalone Army, where more than 400 students at Warner Middle School in Orange Country, California raised abalone in classroom tanks then released them into the wild to restore the threatened species within the local kelp forest ecosystem.

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Ready to Report

After GYSD, we want to hear how your GYSD projects went!—we’ll send you the GYSD Impact Report, and after you fill it out, you’ll receive an official GYSD 2014 Certificate of Participation.

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Compassion + Creativity = KidKnits!

IMG_0167.jpgEllie is a seventh grader and lives in Peoria, Illinois.  She loves swimming, doing math problems, being a big sister, and hanging out with friends.  She wears her biggest smile, though, when she's got her passport and backpack and getting to travel to meet the families who work with KidKnits.  She wants everyone to know that "You're Never Too Young to Change a Life on the Other Side of the World." 

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GYSD Stories of Excellence Countdown: #8

2014_8_stories_of_excellence.jpgRural Women’s Center for Education and Development (RUWDEC), a Global Youth Service Day Country Partner, will host a campaign for GYSD in Cameroon called, “Know Your HIV/AIDS Status Because There Are Medications”.  Approximately 200 university-enrolled youth will raise awareness about the existence of antiretroviral medications and the importance of early HIV detection.  This messaging is critical to follow-up an earlier campaign about the existence of HIV/AIDS, which created a great deal of public anxiety but did not necessarily help people understand how to cope with the epidemic.  Local hospitals will offer free HIV/AIDS screenings, and a local telephone network provider will enable youth organizers to disseminate educational messages to the public.

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GYSD Stories of Excellence Countdown: #9

2014_9_stories_of_excellence.jpgMinnesota FCCLA, a Sodexo Foundation Youth Grantee and a Global Youth Service Day Lead Agency, will host Push Back Curfew for a Cause on April 11 for more than 1,100 students from 85 schools. Through this fun and educational late-night event, organizers aim to raise awareness of childhood hunger, develop philanthropic attitudes in youth, and help students take action by making donations of food.  Leading up to the event, MN FCCLA officers will visit state legislators to advocacy for issues related to hunger and host a Service Parade of local FCCLA chapter posters highlighting service-learning related activity across the state. Through ticket sales to the event, organizers aim to raise at least $1,000 for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry initiative.

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4 Lessons Learned after "Growing Up" with YSA

7638451210_1a3c4117d5.jpgCharles Orgbon, 18, is the founder and CEO of Greening Forward, a GYSD Lead Agency. He has served on the YSA Youth Council and the YSA Board of Directors, and is one of the people that the YSA team admires most! As he takes a big 'next step,' Charles offered this moving reflection about what he's learned from YSA and Global Youth Service Day. 

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GYSD Stories of Excellence Countdown: #10

2014_10_stories_of_excellence.jpgIn Cantel, Guatemala, four young leaders dubbed the “BBoys” are raising awareness about the environment through breakdancing. Josue Garcia, 14, Ricardo Say, 17, Hidany Sam, 15, and Henry Cua, 16, started this breakdance group three years ago and are working with Seres (a nonprofit based in Guatemala) to educate the community about conservation. Recently, the BBoys attended the Youth Leaders for the Pachamama program. This 3-day youth workshop teaches youth to make change towards a sustainable future. "I am different and so I make a difference," said Ricardo Say one of the B-Boys in Chiriquiac, Cantel in Quetzaltenango Guatemala. 

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Ashley Schumann to Receive Harris Wofford Young Teacher Award

ashley_1.jpgAshley Schumann is a fourth grade teacher, State Farm® Good Neighbor Student Achievement grant recipient, service-learning advocate, and now, winner of YSA's Harris Wofford Award.  Ashley will receive the prestigious award during Global Youth Service Day and MONUMENTAL: The National Service-Learning Conference. As the highest distinction YSA awards, the Wofford Awards recognize exceptional youth leaders and adults who are champions of youth voice.

Ms. Schumann is dedicating her 2013-2014 school year to making connections between students with and without disabilities for mutual empowerment and inspiration. On Global Youth Service Day, her students culminate their year of service and learning when they unveil their Unity Garden. It's all the work that happened in the lead up to GYSD that shows why Ms. Schumann receives this year's Wofford Award for Young Educators.

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Mothering Across Continents

Any1Can_Youth_ST_2012-13.jpgMothering Across Continents, one of Youth Service America’s newest Global Partners, is participating this year in its first Global Youth Service Day as a 2014 Lead Agency.

Mothering Across Continents, a non-profit organization in Charlotte, NC, believes that young people when given opportunities and support can understand global issues, explore how the issues affect their communities, and manage projects that can serve as models for change.  Through a three-part framework of knowledge, connection, action, and its programs The Global Class  and Any1Can Project (http://www.motheringacrosscontinents.org/Any1Can/), Mothering Across Continents empowers youth to understand global issues and engage schools and communities to become involved.

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Altering Perceptions: Students' Response to Homelessness

Just steps from the monuments and symbols of American prosperity, seniors at Parkdale High School will challenge stereotypes about what it means to be homeless. They join hundreds of other students for A Celebration of Global Youth Service Day on the National Mall, and for these teens, their GYSD project represents the culmination of an entire school year’s worth of study and action around issues of hunger, homelessness, and poverty.

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GYSD for the Record Books

GYSD_in_Jpeg.JPGThis GYSD is going to be one for the record books - literally! YSA partner Festival of Children Foundation is using GYSD to try to break the Guinness Book of World Records for most cards ever sent in one month. Their GYSD event kicks off on April 12 at the famous Carousel at South Coast Plaza, where kids and adults can make their cards and troops will be on hand for photo ops. Then, for the next month, Festival of Children and Team Kids will collect cards from supporters all over the country and mail them to U.S. troops overseas. Here's how you can help them reach their goal: 

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Creating Meaningful Youth Service Opportunities in Michigan

Michigan_Service_Commission_1.jpgBy Shannon McCarthy
Volunteer Michigan Data Coordinator
With the Michigan Community Service Commission

In 2014, the Michigan Community Service Commission secured a grant to become a Lead Agency for Global Youth Service Day. The Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC) strives to build a culture of service by providing vision and resources to strengthen communities through volunteerism. The MCSC is strongly committed to engaging youth in service and works diligently to expand their service footprint throughout the state. GYSD is a unique Day of Service opportunity as it offers us a perfect occasion to showcase the value of youth service and demonstrate its impact. By engaging youth in this episodic volunteer opportunity designed particularly for young people, the MCSC is able to cultivate a desire for service and making a difference in one's community.

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Providing All Youth Opportunities to Learn, Lead, and Serve

CBP_3275.jpgPosted by Caroline Ledlie
Program Director at Youth Villages AmeriCorps

Youth Villages’ mission is to help children and families live successfully. The AmeriCorps program at Youth Villages’ Inner Harbour Campus in Douglasville, Ga., supports that mission by providing educational and enrichment activities to children in residential treatment for emotional and behavioral problems.

Many of the children served on the Youth Villages-Inner Harbour Campus are in the foster care or juvenile justice system. Many are also behind academically due to learning and cognitive disabilities. These children often have very little opportunity to serve others, but through our experience, we have learned this is a population who truly loves to serve, especially on GYSD (Global Youth Service Day).  

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Change is Good: Addressing Hunger and Child Abuse in Southern California

998813_457021391056800_1863612393_n.jpgNewGround:  A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change is a non-profit organization and veteran YSA (Youth Service America) Lead Agency in Los Angeles, CA.  NewGround provides Muslim and Jewish youth with the skills, resources and relationships needed to improve Muslim-Jewish relations through cooperation on issues of shared concern.  Yusuf Tarr shares with us NewGround’s very important mission, the dynamics of the MAJIC (Muslims and Jews Inspiring Change) High School Leadership Council and their GYSD (Global Youth Service Day) plans to address hunger and child abuse in southern California.

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Webinar: Día Global del Voluntariado Juvenil

Día Global del Voluntariado Juvenil, presentada por YSA (Youth Service America) y Joven 360 el jueves 13 de marzo de 2014. Aprende de los líderes comunitarios jóvenes sobre los problemas que les interesan y apasionan de la comunidad y sobre la manera como planean e implementan proyectos de voluntariado. Cuando ayudas a tu comunidad también te estás ayudando a ti mismo. ¡Entérate cómo puedes ayudar!

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Say Gracias on GYSD

'Thank you' are two of powerful words. As you plan your GYSD projects, remember to thank your volunteers, supporters, sponsors, and all the community members helping to make your GYSD events the best ever.  

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Improving Health Care for GYSD

Jessica Diaz has a passion for working and helping the under-served. Currently, Diaz works with Community HealthCorps® which is an AmeriCorps program. She works with youth and adults who have diabetes. YSA has had the privilege of working with Diaz this spring as our Youth Development Intern where she has contributed to the Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) international program.

Currently serving as Program Coordinators for Community Clinic Inc. in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Community HealthCorps® members Jessica Diaz and Maria Caro are working to improve health care access in their community, as well providing support to community clinics that provide high-quality primary care and health related services for the medically underserved population. Jessica and Maria are creating a group medical visit program for patients diagnosed with childhood obesity and are also implementing a diabetes group medical visit that primarily serves as a support group for patients over the age of 60 diagnosed with diabetes. With the success of this program, members are creating a similar program, mirroring some elements of the diabetes group visit, for pediatric patients diagnosed with obesity, and their families.

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Sodexo Foundation Youth Grant: The Top Chef

Cook_Chef_Hat_Spoons.gifIn 2012, a staggering 46.5 million people in the United States lived in poverty, and 16.1 million of those people were under the age of 18. After reading this, Michael Rodriguez, 17, of New Castle, Pennsylvania realized that more had to be done in his community to help make sure children grew into “healthy, productive and happy adults.”

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Youth Kicking Butts (Through Service!)

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Kick Butts Day is coming up on March 19! The national day of activism empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. YSA's Vice President of Engagement reflects on how youth are kicking butts through service on GYSD and year-round!

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First Lady Michelle Obama Serves as Honorary Chair!

We are thrilled to announce that First Lady Michelle Obama will serve as the honorary chair of Global Youth Service Day!

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"On behalf of YSA, our partner organizations, and the millions of young people preparing for Global Youth Service Day, I extend my sincerest appreciation to the First Lady for serving as the honorary chair of Global Youth Service Day. She and the entire Administration are making young people and national service a priority," said Steven A. Culbertson, President and CEO of YSA. "Mrs. Obama is a role model to so many young people in the United States and around the world, and because of her leadership, more children and teens will step up to begin a lifetime to service on Global Youth Service Day."

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