NCWD/Youth is getting an early jump on Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) this year.
GYSD, which takes place April 26-28, 2013, is an annual event in which young people with and without disabilities all around the world are mobilizing to better their communities.
I received a lesson in service this week when I had the opportunity to hear Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth speak as a part of the speaker series for the George Washington University’s Center for Second Service, an initiative that trains veterans to continue their commitment to public service by running for public office. Congresswoman Duckworth epitomized the concept of service. She served her country in the Army National Guard as a UH-60 Blackhawk co-pilot in Iraq. After sustaining several combat wounds and the loss of her legs, she reapproached service to her country and her newfound community of people with disabilities from a different perspective. She began working for the Department of Veterans Affairs to address some of the needs she saw for veterans after her time in the rehabilitation hospital.
Wanting to do still more for her constituents, Duckworth ran twice for Congress, winning the seat for Illinois’s 8th congressional district in 2013. In her own words, Congresswoman Duckworth expresses the importance of service “I found a different way to serve. I found another way to make a difference. There are people here who may never have served [in the military], but who volunteer at your PTA, volunteer at a soup kitchen, who do something because you value this nation and you value what it means to be an American and you understand that we all have to give something back.”
Events like GYSD show that youth play just as important of a role in serving the community as adults. Engaging in community service can help youth to develop soft skills like teamwork and communication that will aid them in future employment opportunities. (To learn more about how youth can develop soft skills, check out Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success, a free curriculum and video series developed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.) Community service can also be a way for youth to explore different career paths and make connections with professionals in those career fields.
NCWD/Youth’s Youth in Action! Tip Sheet, Get Involved in Volunteering, is a great starting point for educating youth on the value of community service and ways to get involved in their communities. Additionally, all young people can look for volunteer opportunities through organizations such as the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS). The National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) is a CNCS training and technical assistance provider that works to provide meaningful integrated service opportunities for all. NSIP can help youth find relevant opportunities and provide assistance to active service organizations on the best ways to make their programs inclusive of all youth.
Whatever the interests or skills of the young people with whom you work, there’s an opportunity and a need for them to get involved in service. Use the GYSD map, to find a service opportunity near you today!
- Get Involved in Volunteering Youth in Action! Tip Sheet (While you’re here, check out the other Youth in Action! Tip Sheets as well!)
- The National Service Inclusion Project
- Global Youth Service Day (GYSD)
By Dana Fink, Assistant Project Coordinator with the National Collaborative on Workforce & Disability for Youth at the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Center for Workforce Development