You don't need to wait until you grow up to change the world. Children and teens are creating change every day by volunteering. On Global Youth Service Day, April 11-13, 2014, 800+ partners—United Ways, schools, youth organizations, nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations, volunteer and national service programs, government agencies, and other individuals—are coming together to activate young people to improve their communities. More than 1,300 volunteer projects and celebrations are planned in 80 countries and nearly all 50 states, making Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) the largest service event in the world.
Volunteering is at the heart of United Way’s commitment to advance the common good, and we are proud to be a national and global partner with YSA (Youth Service America), the founder of GYSD and an international leader in the youth service movement.
United Ways are organizing GYSD events in their communities to help youth understand tough community issues and actively help to address them. For example, in Pennsylvania, United Way of York County is offering youth the chance to give back by sorting food for a food bank, cleaning up a city park, and improving the garden at a local Head Start facility.
United Way of El Paso County and partners led over 8,000 local youth in similar projects last year. This year, they are partnering with the Ysleta Independent School District to teach younger children about the value of volunteering by bringing service organizations and service projects to afterschool programs. For one project, children will learn about how some homeless and other low-income families struggle to meet basic needs, and then assemble toiletry kits for Salvation Army to distribute.
In Washington, D.C. more than 1,000 kids and teens are expected to serve with United Way and others in the MONUMENTAL Day of Service on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial. The day is a culmination of the 25th Annual National Service-Learning Conference, hosted by the National Youth Leadership Council.
Worldwide, GYSD activities range from food drives, healthy-living campaigns and community clean-ups, to peaceful human rights rallies and large-scale vaccination campaigns in developing countries. At least 1 million young people, global and national partners are expected to participate in GYSD 2014. In support of Global Youth Service Day and related youth-led service activities, YSA awards more than $1 million in grants annually to youth, schools and organizations, and offers free tips and tools as well.
Kids and teens bring a fresh perspective to most everything, including how to change their communities for the better. It’s no wonder that more than 300 United Ways invite children and youth on a regular basis to volunteer with us to help improve the building blocks for a good life: education, income and health.
Take a moment to ask a child, “What would you do to make the world a better place?” Will you join United Way in helping children achieve their vision of a better world and to grow up knowing how to make a positive difference for all of us? It takes everyone in the community working together to create a brighter future. I invite you to be part of the change, with kids of all ages. LIVE UNITED.