Impact Feature Issue on Paraeducators Supporting Students with Disabilities and At-Risk

Service Learning: Increasing Youth Involvement

Service learning is applying classroom learning to out-of-classroom activities that meet genuine community needs. Students gain new skills while helping others who need them. They discover that learning doesn’t only happen inside classrooms. They also realize that they are valuable members of society who can make the world a better place. Some activities are based in the communities. They include programs such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Camp Fire Boys and Girls. Others are based in the schools and are made part of the regular curriculum. Three of the many exciting activities students have done with service learning in Minnesota are:

  • Students at Northeast Middle School in Minneapolis designed and painted an outdoor mural to brighten their school’s courtyard. This is part of a larger project to build a “Gathering Place” for members of the school and community to meet.
  • At Northland High School in Remer, students built a playground for their community.
  • In Waconia, middle and high school students in a program for students at-risk run a farm where, among other activities, they help young children with disabilities ride the horses as part of We Can Ride , a therapeutic horseback-riding program for people with disabilities.

Interested in seeing service learning at your school? Talk to the teachers, the principal, and the P.T.A. Funding and technical assistance are available. For more information contact the National Youth Leadership Council in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Adapted with permission from “Fast Work” on the Web site of PACER Center, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota.