Global Youth Service Day

Palvasha Deme: A Story of Service for Health

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”I’m kind of selfish. I love watching people’s happiness and appreciation for something that I genuinely enjoy doing. I was forced to volunteer when I was younger, but now, it’s completely self-motivated. I have met so many cool people and done so many cool things - that is why I go back to volunteer… GYSD is a great time to grab your friends and give back!” 

“My first real volunteer experience was with Rays of Hope, a Children’s Grief Center in Midland, Texas… I loved volunteering in high school and I could only hope that other people could experience what I’ve been able to do… I have had so many cool opportunities while volunteering at Medical Center Health System in Odessa, Texas. My junior year of high school, our volunteer teen leadership program was invited to present at a national conference. Having adults ask me how to start and maintain a teen volunteer program was a weird feeling - the student became the teacher…

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Sweet Readers: Changing the Face of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Sweet Readers, a public charity in New York, is changing the face and course of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. The mission of Sweet Readers is to empower middle school students to see beyond the mask of illness and to be engaged in relationship with the elders who suffer Alzheimer’s disease.

Sweet Readers, a 2015 GYSD Community Partner (http://www.ysa.org/gysdcommunitypartners) says: No more isolated elders!

During Global Youth Service Day this year (www.GYSD.org), Sweet Readers plans to engage 600 youth at several events including Atria Senior Living Center, The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and many different museums in New York.  Through these events, Sweet Readers hopes to bring communities together to support the engagement of middle schools students and youth leaders with elders struggling with AD and their families. 

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The MEANS Database

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It is easy to underestimate the scale of the hunger epidemic and the system that has been growing to combat its spread in America. Tens of thousands of food banks, serving millions of hungry people all across the nation, generate a huge amount of relief for many. With any large system, there is bound to be waste and miscommunication, but these two natural setbacks are particularly problematic in the world of emergency food services. Each day, food is wasted in restaurants, grocery stores, and anywhere else that works with food. Food banks try and collect much of these unwanted and often near-expiration products, yet sometimes donors who give food lack information about what products are needed in what communities. The end result is oversupply of certain food items that overwhelm food banks. Moving 500 boxes of Macaroni and Cheese before they expire in two weeks is a next to impossible task, especially when tech-nology lags behind in this critical social service.

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Super Food Drive: Replacing Hunger With Health

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It’s hard to believe that in the midst of an obesity epidemic, nearly 50 million Americans struggle to keep food on the table.  Food insecurity is the term used to describe not having access to enough food. More accurately, we are seeing a problem of nutrition insecurity, meaning inadequate access to sufficient nutrients to live a healthy life.  Those who are nutrition insecure are also more likely to be overweight and diagnosed with diet-related diseases such as obesity and type II diabetes.  Many Americans are struggling with being overfed, yet undernourished, all while being uncertain of where their next meal will come from.

Good news: SuperFood Drive is working toward a solution!

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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 2015!

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Step 1: Find Your Voice

How will you improve your community? How will you change the world? The first step in planning a community service project is to find your voice by exploring and investigating community issues that are important to you and your friends.  

Tobi Shannon, university student and YSA Global Youth Council member, is an advocate for young girls and is passionate abouttheir access to secondary education. In this video Tobi takes you through the process of identifying a community need with YSA’s Youth Changing the World Toolkit, while sharing how she uses the toolkit to help her plan her own community service project. Tobi also shares tools and resources available to you on www.GYSD.org that can help you investigate community issues that are important to you.

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Kyrgyzstan Kool: Sanira's Story of Service and Passion

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The first step in planning a service project in your community is to ask yourself a very important question, “What am I passionate about? What do I care about? What in my community needs to change or be improved?” For Sanira-Begim Mamtova the answer is simple. As an advocate for youth she believes all students in Kyrgyzstan should have an opportunity to participate in organized team sports and learn about healthy eating, cooking, and living in the classroom.

“People who are now in elementary and high school, if they learn the issues now they will want to make a difference and improve Kyrgyzstan as they grow older.” - Sanira-Begim Mamtova

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Save the Date: Global Youth Service Day 2015 is April 17-19

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YSA & Peace Corps Morocco's Service Tips

YSA is on a mission to create meaningful youth service projects around the world. Who better to toss around ideas and best practices with than Peace Corps?

Peace Corps and YSA teamed up to show Peace Corps volunteers how they can collaborate with youth and organize their communities for Global Youth Service Day (GYSD).

Chris Wagner, YSA’s Manager of Outreach, and Zach Tilton, Youth Development Volunteer in Morocco, provide an overview of GYSD, share examples from Peace Corps Morocco’s past GYSD activities, identify free project planning resources from YSA and Peace Corps, and invite volunteers and host country partners to the GYSD Community Partner Program.

This program is an excellent opportunity for the schools and organizations Peace Corps volunteers collaborate with to build their capacity as they plan a GYSD project. 

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Try Again When You’re Older

Greening_Forward_Headshot_2.pngI started my leadership adventure from a very young age -- the line leader of my first grade class. As a wee little squirt blossom, I led my class in a single file line to and from the classroom with considerable poise. But when I wanted lead a book drive project in my community a year or two later, I was rejected, and my line leader credentials were overlooked.

"We appreciate that you want to organize a book drive, but you're not old enough. Try again when you're older," the adult told me.

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GYSD in Albania

Albania_Community_Centre_GYSD_2014_(36).jpgMeet Viola Cikalleshi the Local Coordinator for Community Development Center a 2014 GYSD Country Partner in Albania.

Community Development Center and our “Today for the Future” national network (CDCTFF) are collaborating with young people in Tirana, Durres and Puke to develop service activities to address environment needs and pollution hot spots in Albania through our Healthy Countries Today for a Healthy World in the Future project.  For example the city of Durres is located on a reclaimed swamp near a large water channel that collects sewage.  This open area is a dangerous source of pollution and disease for the city.  After listening to the residents and their concerns, CDCTFF committed to engaging as many young environment activists as possible in cleaning the area around the channel in support of GYSD (Global Youth Service Day).  In addition, CDCTFF will also engage youth from several schools to clean Durres’ beaches. 

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More Than Anything Have Fun

When organizing your own service project, you might end up discovering more about your community, what it takes to be a leader, and the skills needed to manage a project.  In this video learn from an expert panel of young community leaders from across the United States what their communities are like, which issues are important to them, examples of their past and current service projects, and some of the best practices and tools they have used when organizing a service project.

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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.

Simone Bernstein, courtesy of Emily Hall for YSA

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Story of Excellence #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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Story of Excellence #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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Story of Excellence #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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Story of Excellence #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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Story of Excellence #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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Story of Excellence 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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Story of Excellence 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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Environmental Campaigns

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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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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Story of Excellence 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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Story of Excellence 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 from 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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Story of Excellence 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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Education Wofford Winner

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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