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It's time to see young people as part of the solution, not part of the problem. Yet even though youth are more likely than adults to volunteer, fewer than half of all young people consistently serve others. The result of this is that they miss a powerful opportunity for growth.
Giving children and adolescents opportunities to serve others is an important strategy in shaping America's future. Though school-based community service has received the most attention, there are many different avenues through which youth can contribute to their communities. These include:
Though service by youth is often "packaged" as a single program run by an organization or social institution, promoting service as a lifelong commitment is enhanced when youth participate at many ages and through multiple avenues, and when given the opportunity to reflect on the act of service itself; hence, the term "service-learning."
With appropriate training and support, young people can perform hundreds of different types of services in their communities. An emerging body of research suggests that service-learning experiences enhance self-esteem, a sense of personal competence and efficiency, engagement with school, and social responsibility for others. However, remember that youth are much less likely to volunteer if they are not asked.