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The Community Center: Getting Involved

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, let’s 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!)

Community Service

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.

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Last updated on December 5, 2018

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