On our blog today, we have a special guest writer, our very own Youth Program Coordinator - Jean Seeland. Jean will talk about her time in the elementary schools of Waterloo and about the service-learning projects she helped implement!
Children are never too young to begin learning about how to give back to their community and their world. I began working with preschoolers at Kittrell Elementary two years ago in a classroom that included several autistic children. The response was so positive, that this year I am working with two classrooms! I visit the classes each month and we do a special service-learning project designed for the preschool children. For example, one month we decided to honor our community helpers. We asked the city of Waterloo to send out a garbage truck and someone to explain the job of a sanitation worker. After a wonderful experience that excited the children, the children made special posters saying "thank you" to sanitation workers that they took home and attached to their garbage cans!
Another month we had a special speaker from a veterinarian's office and then we made cat toys that were given to the Humane Society. The most powerful aspect of this engagement is not the projects we do, but the empowerment the young children feel knowing that they can make a difference in the world. I am a firm believer that traditions begun at an early age continue into our latter years!
- Jean Seeland, Youth Program Coordinator
Perhaps you are familiar with the concept of service-learning or maybe this is the first time you heard of the word. Here at the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley, we are very familiar with the concept, in fact, we have partnerships with community schools to help implement service-learning projects into the curriculum!
What is service-learning? Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrate meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities! Service-learning will help students develop responsibility, empower them to feel they can make a difference, increase their civic awareness, and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Service-learning is wonderful because it enhances both student growth and the common good. It achieves real objectives in the community while enabling students to achieve a deeper understanding of social issues.
Service-learning is for any age student from preschool to college! Read this story about students at Peet Junior High!
Peet Junior High
Students at Peet Jr. High became active participants in the community when they focused on doing things to help the homeless. They contacted the Salvation Army and set up a schedule to have a "Red Kettle" drive at the school for a week following Thanksgiving. They rang the Salvation Army bells before and after school and collected money from their classmates, teachers, and parents! They also made tie blankets that were donated to homeless shelters in the Cedar Valley. In addition, they educated their peers on the plight of the homeless with a PowerPoint presentation that was shown to the student body. They demonstrated in many ways they could make a difference with their active involvement!
The winter months have many holiday celebrations such as Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day (Epiphany), and more! Here are some ideas that individuals and groups can do to help brighten our community during the winter holiday season! Please tailor these ideas to reflect the holiday you celebrate and comment below about other ideas or traditions that you incorporated.
If you need help connecting to an nonprofit or organization in the Cedar Valley, visit our Agency page to view a list of all the organizations that are member agencies with us! You can always email or give us a call at 319-272-2087.