Youth volunteers throughout Arkansas continue to address critical community needs in innovative and creative ways. Not only do communities benefit from the power of youth volunteers, but youth also benefit from volunteering. Research on youth volunteer and service-learning programs indicates that youth volunteerism results in communication and teamwork skills, project planning and leadership experience, greater awareness of career options, and improved academic performance.
Whether you give your time because you are passionate about a cause or to build your skills and experience, volunteering is guaranteed to open new doors and create good in your community. As we grow this network, we hope to provide resources for youth involved in volunteering, teachers that utilize service-learning activities, and youth-serving organizations.
What is service learning?
Service learning is a method of teaching that allows students to take the knowledge they are learning in a classroom and apply it in the real world through volunteer service projects. It is a powerful tool that's useable in many contexts, such as academic classrooms, afterschool programs, youth-specific volunteer programs, and civic and educational clubs like 4-H and Scouts.
YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN HIGH-QUALITY SERVICE-LEARNING LINKS TO:
Greater engagement in school
Improved grade point average (GPA)
Avoidance of risk behaviors such as smoking and alcohol use
Feelings of empowerment to take on leadership roles
Greater acceptance of cultural diversity
Growth in skills for project planning and implementation
Awareness of community needs
Higher intentions to vote
Awareness of career options
Development of positive work skills and attitudes
Act 648 of 1993: Community Service Learning
Legislation passed in 1993, Act 648 allows a secondary student who has completed a minimum of seventy-five (75) clock hours of documented community service-learning, as certified by the service organization to the school, to be eligible to receive one (1) academic credit that may be applied toward graduation. The Arkansas State Board of Education is the authorized agent to promulgate rules and regulations necessary for the implementation of Act 648 of 1993.
The Arkansas State Board of Education provides guidance and support for Districts implementing Community Service Learning. Learn more here.
Service Learning Educator Toolkits
Youth Service America is a national organization that believes that youth, communities, and democracy thrive when we all work together for the common good. Based on YSA’s Semester of Service Teacher Toolkit, this new Service-Learning Experience Toolkit gives you the option to choose a week-long, month-long, or semester-long service-learning experience with your students. Provided as both Google Docs and Word Docs, each planning element has its own document, so you can pick and choose only the steps necessary for your activity, and do your planning right in your own copy of the documents.
The Congressional Award for Youth
The Congressional Award is about the challenge. It's a fun and interesting way to get youth more involved in something they already enjoy or something they would like to try for the first time. To earn the Award, youth volunteers set goals in four areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration. The youth should select an adult advisor (other than a parent, relative, or peer) who will help set challenging but achievable goals and plan activities to reach those goals. These steps will put Arkansas Youth on their way toward earning the Congressional Award.
|Voluntary Public Service||Providing service to others and the great community at large.|
|Personal Development||Developing personal interests, social, or employment skills.|
|Physical Fitness||Improving the quality of life and health through fitness activities.|
|Expedition/Exploration||Undertaking an outdoor, wilderness, or venture experience (historical, cultural, or environmental.|
Some sample activities include 4H, aerobics, archery, baseball, basketball, bicycling, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, camping, canoeing, Circle K, Civil Air Patrol, dance, debate, exploring, Future Business Leaders, field hockey, football, Girl Scouts, Habitat for Humanity, HOBY Youth Leadership, hospital volunteer, Junior Achievement, Key Club, leadership programs, Learning for Life, literacy programs, marching band, Outward Bound, painting, part-time jobs, photography, Police Auxiliary, public speaking, reading, Red Cross, Rotaract, running, sewing, softball, soccer, swimming, tennis, tutoring, weight lifting, woodworking, YMCA.
The program is non-partisan, voluntary, and non-competitive. Young people may register when they turn 13 1/2 years old. They are eligible to submit activities starting at 14 years old and must complete activities by their 24th birthday. Participants earn Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Award Certificates and Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Award Medals. To learn more about this prestigious Congressional Award, visit this page for prospective participants.