| Ford Church

Inspiring a Service Ethic

When I teach a Cottonwood Institute course, I typically begin by asking students what they think about volunteering and community service. Very consistently, students tell me that community service is what their parents make them do, what their school makes them do, or it involves a parole officer. Using community service as a punishment tool is not exactly the best way to inspire a service ethic among our youth.

I was inspired to give back to my community because I was greatly influenced by my parents and grandparents. I remember my brother and I being pulled down the street by my mom and dad in a Radio Flyer red wagon as we picked up trash and participated in the New Orleans Clean City Committee. My mother, Beverly Church, helped revitalize a children’s amusement park called Story Land. I remember hearing stories about how involved my grandparents were in the New Orleans community and all of the local organizations they supported.

To inspire students to become active in their communities, the Cottonwood Institute’s Community Adventure Program  makes service fun and exciting. Through the use of adventure, we teach students to comfortably and competently explore the outdoors, we teach essential camping and wilderness survival skills, and we go on overnight camping trips to practice our skills. Through the use of the outdoors, implement a technique called Service-Learning to make service fun and engaging. Students brainstorm environmental issues, choose and issue to tackle as a class, collaborate with other organizations, coordinate all the logistics, and implement an Action Project to address their issue in order to make a positive impact in the community.

Question: If you currently volunteer, work for a nonprofit organization, serve on a nonprofit board, or serve your community in any way, what specific events or people in your life helped inspire your service ethic?

Categories: How to Change the World

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