4-H Afterschool Youth Inspired to Give Back
The 4-H program is known for fostering caring youth through community action. A portion of the 4-H Pledge even states “I pledge my hands to larger service.” Kids are exposed to the concerns they see in their communities in the 4-H Program and encouraged to make a change for the better.
This year, Union County 4-H established a partnership with Marshville Elementary School implementing an afterschool leadership 4-H club. During one of the sessions, I asked the kids how they thought we could help the community. The number one suggestion they had was to donate clothes and shoes to those in need. The next highest answer was picking up trash around the school. In doing this activity, they recognized a need at their school and in their neighborhoods and were quick to offer solutions on how to help. The students realized that other children may need their used clothes or shoes more than they do. They also understood that they were capable to actively go outside to make their school a cleaner place.
Their responses are a reminder when kids are given a voice, they have genuine ideas to care for their community. By instilling the value of giving back as children, they are more likely to continue their service as adults. By considering the needs of others, youth can become more innovative in their thinking about ways to solve problems.
When youth help together as a group, they build teamwork, cooperation, and communication skills. By giving back and serving their community, youth can gain a sense of compassion towards others and confidence in themselves. One of the new incentives in Union County 4-H is to inspire kids, but ultimately kids can inspire us as well.