The world has been hit hard by disasters in the past year or so. There have been earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, New Zealand, and now Japan. The amount of damage done to each of these countries is far overshadowed by the loss of life. So it's gotten me thinking this week - how can teenagers in the United States help? The key to remember is that community service is a life-long committment to being a compassionate and engaged person. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it! So here are a few ways you can get involved and become a community-oriented teen.
Choose what you're passionate about - the first thing to do is think about what really gets you interested, or what issue makes you mad. Community service takes passion - so what are you passionate about? Do you want to fight AIDS, homelessness, or the mistreatment of animals? Do you get angry about global hunger or women's rights? What issue is closest to your heart? Think hard about what issues you could sink your teeth into.
Do some research - if you really want to do some good in the area you've chosen, you've got to be informed. Do your research about that issue and make sure you understand what the problem is and how it can be solved! After environmental disasters, for example, getting clean water can be a real problem for refugees - so maybe you should work to get water filters for poor countries that have experienced disasters. If you care about women's rights, you can learn about how education and microloans can greatly improve the lives of women in developing countries. The first step to getting involved is getting informed!
Get engaged - now that you're armed with knowledge, head out there and get your local community interested in the issue. Find a charity that deals with the issue and hold a bake sale at your school for it, or ask your school if you can put a bucket by the door for loose change. Write about the issue on a blog, or tell all your friends how important it is. Make us care by reminding us how this problem affects us.
Doing community service is one of the most rewarding experiences out there. So why not get involved today in an issue you care about?
P.S. Don't forget to write about your experience! By submitting stories of your community service to Teen Ink, you could be published in our print magazine and win a cash prize for a charity of your choice!