Apathy. We can all fall into a negative attitude in which we feel we are incapable of making changes in our society. We may not like how much we pay in taxes, or the condition of our local or state roads and highways, but what are we doing about it? Many people don’t even bother to vote, even though the lawmakers who are elected will make decisions that will affect us directly. Voter turnout continues to be shockingly low, at about 20% of the population voting in municipal elections, and 59% in federal elections. Where did our community spirit go? A change begins with the education of our children – they will be grabbing the reins and determining all the important issues in the future, including for us during our waning years.
Education is a critical aspect of whether the American spirit of community service and engagement is restored. Schools that focus on volunteerism, teamwork and social action could be an important influencing factor in the future of our country, and our planet.
At one time, civics was taught in every school. Young people learned about their responsibilities and how governments work, and their part in the process as a citizen. Students that are exposed to important issues with hands-on activities often have a life-changing experience, which impacts their inclination to serve as a community leader or active participant in their future lives. The types of activities can include litter clean-ups, fundraising for good causes, classes on lifesaving and other types of activities that have been proven to bring more awareness of our community at large, and a greater sense of responsibility.
One of the ways that makes community service more inviting is to create programs for which the student can gain certification or acknowledgements. Working on these activities teaches teamwork, and the ability to work with a range of personalities. Teenagers can be exceptionally insular, and this offers an opportunity to break out of a certain group of friends and interact with other parts of our society, and to understand other cultures, age groups and types of people – a powerful skill to carry into working life.
Encourage your local schools to add volunteer programs, and urge your child to participate in these programs. There has been an increase in volunteerism in recent years, and this bodes well for the future of our entire country. Maybe we haven’t done as much as we could – but let’s hope our children will.