Youth Service: a Key to Our Future

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The world around us today is a far more complex and dangerous place than it has ever been in all of humankind’s’ history.

The development of sophisticated weaponry, the profusion of genetic engineering, the barrage of environmental destruction, the greed of corporate globalization, the unrest of political upheavals, and social uneasiness are items in the news and in our lives every day. It’s hard to think that we could ever get ourselves out of any of these predicaments.

The solutions to these pressing issues are not always evident or even acknowledged by the media today BUT solutions do exist and they do occur!

One of the most inspiring hopes for our future lies in the area of youth community service. Mostly unreported in the media, there has been a groundswell of youth volunteering for community service all over the world. With this there has been a newly developed sense of the inestimable value of these programs both socially and economically that gives us pause to reflect that something can be done to help during these difficult times.

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.  – Albert Schweitzer

The effects of this youthful civic engagement cuts across social classes and encompasses both the personal growth of the participants, who feel that they have found meaning and place in their lives while performing these much needed services, and the cohesive integration of communities. We see less youth turning to crime and drugs, less young women getting pregnant. We see a leveling of the playing field for the socio-economic disadvantaged as youth learn important skills and gain motivation that allows them to complete high school and continue on to a higher education which in turn leads to successful careers. We see communities prospering when crime is decreased and parks and neighborhoods are cleaned up. Rebuilding occurs and real estate prices rise while incarceration and judicial costs are reduced.

We see also that community service becomes a lifelong behavior. Over and over again the evidence says that we should invest dearly into our youth who are leading the way towards a cultural healing. We now know that there are no deficits that will come to pass as a result of such an endeavor. That we have not fully made this investment demonstrates only that the message needs to become much more ingrained into our society so that every citizen and every politician knows close to their heart what community service is, how it brings us together and makes us strong at every level.

Community grows when people honour a commitment to laugh, shout, cry, argue, sing, and scream with, and at, one another without destroying one another or the earth in the process.  We can’t ever honestly celebrate diversity if we pretend to bring in the harvest before we have tilled the ground together.” 
- The Ethics of Inclusion: Three Common Delusions, by John O’Brien,MarshaForest, Jack Pearpoint, Shafik Asante & Judith Snow

Position: Executive Director, Takefman Citizen Sector Consulting

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