Our group, the Lakota High School Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) began a "Jacob's Wish" Community Service project. We developed a program to help teachers, parents, and children become aware of the dangers of child abduction by helping prepare children to defend themselves against dangerous situations. We used the 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling from Minnesota, as inspiration, naming it "Jacob's Wish."
Our challenges included limited resources, as well as creating an age-specific program for elementary-aged children. Through the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, we borrowed a McGruff the Crime Dog costume and included him in the program, which was wonderfully entertaining for the children.
Traveling to sevenin schools in North Dakota, each presentation included a video from the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, which explained the circumstances surrounding Jacob's abduction, and offered vital information explaining who a stranger is, and how the viewers, too, can help find missing children. Then a lesson about strangers, given by none other than McGruff, was followed by a student-presented dramatization which illustrating common lures of abductors.
A safety segment outlined different ways children can help themselves escape and ways they can get people to help.
Each child received a "Jacob's Wish" button, created by a student artist, and a safety and identification packet from the students. A fingerprinting session was also held.
Teamwork, leadership, confidence, and public speaking were all used to pull the different segments of the program together. This community service endeavor has been rewarding and life-altering. Based on the positive comments of children, parents, and teachers, Lakota FBLA has made a contribution to a happier, safer tomorrow for many of our
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.