Terms and Definitions
There are a few words you should
probably know if you’re going to get involved or participate in your school or community. Knowing
these words can help you to figure out what you want to do for
volunteering, community service, or getting involved in school
clubs and organizations.
Activism means standing up for what you believe
in and trying to make change happen. Being an activist means advocating
for change in an area that you think needs change. For example,
say you think the school schedule isn’t working and you’d
like that to change. You know other students feel the same way.
So you get a group together and talk to the school board. You present
a proposal on how the schedule could be done so that it would work better
for more students. Then you follow up after the meeting to make
sure your message was understood. This is activism. (We have a page on Being Active in Politics. Check it out if you haven't already!)
Volunteering means giving your time and talents
(for free!) to someone or some organization. There are a million
places to volunteer, both at school and in your community. An example of
volunteering would be spending time at the local nursing home in your community,
talking with people who live there, playing cards, taking walks, and keeping
them company. Another example would be volunteering to be a Big Brother
or Big Sister to a younger child – being a mentor to help them with things
they’re facing in their life. (We have a page on Volunteering to Help Others. Check it out if you haven't already!)
This is basically the same thing as volunteering. You might be able to do a community service project
to meet the requirements for a class project in school. One example of a
community service project would be helping with a Habitat for Humanity home
building project to build a home for a family that doesn’t have one.
Mentoring basically means that you give your time, skills,
knowledge, and talents to help someone else that needs some guidance.
You can volunteer by being a mentor or someone else could volunteer to be
your mentor. Having a mentor could help you to explore your interests, abilities,
and skills with the help from a friend – your mentor! (We have a whole section about Mentoring. Check it out!)
Youth Leadership Organizations
Youth Leadership Organizations are
exactly what the name says. They are organizations that help you develop
leadership skills through projects that you get involved with through their
organization. There are youth leadership organizations in the community
and in school. One example in the community is the YMCA. School leadership
organizations include Future Leaders of America (FLA) and the Student Council.
Youth Development Opportunities
Youth development opportunities
are opportunities for you to develop new skills, talents, abilities, and
to learn how to become a youth leader. Most of these opportunities happen
through youth leadership organizations.
Try a Youthhood activity: