Graphic with students from many backgrounds and nationalities arm in arm

Creating change together: 4 ways students can impact their communities

Superheroes, get ready to kick off this school year with a bang!

Service learning and volunteering are no ordinary checkboxes; they hold the key to unlocking transformative experiences shaping our students’ growth and development. By immersing themselves in community service, our students break free from comfort zones, cultivate empathy and embrace the path of social responsibility.

Now it’s time to embark on an epic journey of inspiration, engagement and empowerment. Here are four ways to uncover the secrets to ignite the superhero potential within our students and empower them to create a remarkable, lasting impact on the world around them.

Incorporate service learning into curriculum

Through collaborative discussions, guide your students in identifying a community issue or need that aligns with the subject being taught. Students then complete a service learning project applying their skills and knowledge to address the identified issue.

For example, if they’re studying environmental science, students can organize a community park cleanup or create educational materials about sustainability. This hands-on approach allows students to actively engage in volunteerism while learning valuable skills and concepts.

Support student-led initiatives

Encourage your socially-conscious leaders to take action by promoting awareness campaigns that tackle pressing social and environmental issues. From creating eye-catching visuals to hosting community events and harnessing the influence of social media, students can make a meaningful difference and inspire their peers to take action. 

Connect, collaborate, create

Collaborating with community partners is a powerful way for high school students to create change. By working alongside community members, students foster a sense of community ownership, creating initiatives that benefit from existing resources, networks and infrastructure.

This collaborative approach amplifies the impact, sustainability and community engagement of student-led initiatives, leading to positive and lasting change in their communities.

Nurture mindful reflection

Dedicate time for students to reflect individually or in small groups on their volunteer experiences. Encourage them to share their reflections, discuss the impact of their volunteer work and explore the importance of civic engagement. Ask guiding questions to foster deeper understanding of the issue, empathy and critical thinking skills while reinforcing the value of volunteerism.

As educators, we empower students to take action through a supportive environment, mentorship and collaboration. By connecting students with resources, celebrating their achievements and building community partnerships, we can magnify the impact of their projects. Together, we enable students to create meaningful change in their communities and beyond.

In what ways can your young leaders be impactful in their communities this year? Let us know on social media at @ArizonaEducator on Twitter or Arizona PBS KIDS on Facebook.


About the author

Ashley Burkart, Biology faculty at Estrella Mountain Community College, holds a Masters in Biomedical Science from Midwestern University, where STEM research became her first passion. When she isn’t teaching tomorrow’s leaders, she is either hanging out with her dogs, Raven and Bailey, or hiking the beautiful mountains of Arizona. 

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