I was a Girl Scout for well over ten years and I couldn't tell you how many hours of community service I participated in. One of the quotes from the reading that stuck out to me was: "In addition to helping those they serve, such service learning activities seek to promote students' self-esteem, to develop higher-order thinking skills, to make use of multiple abilities, and to provide authentic learning experience." I know that for me, the years I spent in Girl Scouts complete validate the quote. I was able to develop those skills as well leadership, responsibility, and many other valuable skills at a young age. I know the troops that I was in didn't make community service projects seem like work. Usually we did projects with younger troops. Whether I was an entire day dedicated to staying healthy or just a little craft project.
My Community Service Patch
My Patches for participating in Project Undercover
The Junior Aide Patch I earned for working with younger troops.
Throughout high school I was in several school clubs that actively participated in community service and service learning programs. From ten through twelfth grade I was a member of the North Providence High Math Peer Tutors where I would go to one of the middle schools every Thursday and work with students in math. It was a program very similar to the VIPS program only it took place after school. I was a member of the Wind Ensemble where we would go to the other schools and put on concerts for them. It was similar to what the music director in the reading did with his upper-middle-class students. I was also a member and officer in my school's chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions. The club's goal was to do our best to educate our fellow students about the dangers of substance abuse. Then there was Senior Project. For my Senior Project, I worked with the middle school band. I participated in their after school band sessions, performed in their concerts, went on two of their field trips and I got to teach a few music classes. I was supposed to complete a minimum of sixteen mentoring hours but in the end I completed well over forty hours! I even went after I graduated!
I think I did my most rewarding Service learning projects through the martial arts school I attend. I'm a certified black belt at Mastery Martial Arts and for the past few summers I have been helping with a program at Sargent Rehabilitation Center in Warwick, Rhode Island. Once a week during the summers I have been working with one of the Instructors in a program for teens and young adults who have suffered from brain injuries and another program for children and teens with profound Autism. It really is amazing to watch the children progress in the program, especially the children with Autism. During the first week or so we usually have a hard time getting the to do the movements and stand still but then by the end of the six week program they can stand still on their place marker, go through the movements with ease and even look us in the eye!
-Things to think about-
I know for me, doing volunteer work and service learning projects is almost as big a part of my life as going to school. I've been able to use my past experiences as tool when I go to Kennedy Elementary School for the Service Learning Project through VIPS. Has anyone had similar experiences? Has anyone had no prior experience with Service learning project before the one we're doing for class?