The K-12 national service initiative places our youth in the role of managing the overview of our community needs. Are youth capable of taking on this management role? Absolutely.
Working with non-profit staff and teachers, youth can manage the overview of work and progress in specific areas. With a national projects checklist they can research outstanding solution models in use in other communities. Nationwide coordination of topic areas at specific grade levels allows youth to:
- Network and build relations and knowledge among themselves
- Reach out to peers in other communities to help problem solve
- Combine outcomes with peers nationwide at the same grade level
Sequencing topic areas allows youth to focus on one topic per year of growth K – 6. In middle and high school, emerging young adults take on increasing leadership roles, further integrating and expanding their service contributions, and supporting the work of younger peers.
In a sense, the initiative creates an “office” at each grade level. All challenges, ideas, projects, and outcomes would pass through these offices – through the hands of our youth. The integration of these offices within our schools creates a unified, cooperative environment.
If we question whether youth can manage community needs, we might ask as well if adults have managed this responsibility. There is so much we don’t accomplish as adults, so much we don’t know about needs in our local, national and global communities.
When we become aware of needs and engage in contribution, we aren’t sure about how these needs continue to be met over time. We lose track, we lose focus, we lose connection as change or the general flow of our lives takes over. We interact sporadically with the mass of needs that come to our attention.
As our youth return to their homes from school with stories of their community engagements, parents and extended family members will see community needs through the eyes of their youth, and the path to solutions stimulated by education. Youth management would infuse our local, national and global problem solving with inspiration and meaningful change.
The presence of youth at the problem solving table would help us. The questions they would raise, the solutions they would bring, the follow through they would contribute, would bring us to a very different stage of problem solving. In the process, we would find youth more engaged in their education as they find respect for their abilities and presence in the community. We would discover reason to hope for a better world with the next generation at the helm. It is time to weave an integration of generations focused on solution making. It is time to provide this leadership role for our youth.