With a K–12 service learning model in place, all community members come to know that our youth are actively engaged in keeping all local community service work intact and that our youth are connected nationwide and reaching out globally. The most expedient way to disseminate new information to the community is through this educational channel.
One current example of how students and schools can alert community members about new information is in the recycling of plastic bottle caps. For years, people were told they could not be recycled and became accustomed to simply throwing them out, but the recycling industry can now incorporate these caps into the recycling stream. The shift to get everyone onboard to recycle these bottle caps requires communication and education. Students can inform community members that, as small as these bottle caps are, over a billion pounds of them are produced every year, and the recovery of this material is of value in recycled products.
In this particular example, recycling equipment and capabilities need to be checked at the local level. Sixth graders in the leadership role for recycling could take the next steps. A phone call or e-mail to a waste management facility would garner community-specific information. Information in hand, they could create a presentation for a school assembly, coordinating with others in their school district and nationwide as they watch for shifts in statistical data due to these new processes.
With six years of cumulative leadership experience and guidance from teachers, new information and processes provide a natural, progressive opportunity for sixth graders to exercise communication skills and confirm their roles in addressing real-world issues. Classes with leadership roles stay in touch with their community partner organizations, update their checklist topics with new information, and contact news media to disseminate information to the larger community.