An NASSP Student Leadership Initiative

Encouraging Youth to Engage in Change

It’s important to start teaching the next generation how to #EngageInChange at an early age because their young minds are still developing and will adapt to what’s around them. If they learn to make the right decisions in the beginning, those decisions will continue to be part of their everyday lives as they grow.

Share How You #EngageInChange

Encouraging Youth to Engage in Change

By Tiffany Garcia

We have the power to help our future generation engage in meaningful change! It’s important to start at an early age because their young minds are still developing and will adapt to what’s around them. If they learn to make the right decisions in the beginning, those decisions will continue to be part of their everyday lives as they grow. I think both adults and young people should be engaged, and we can include everyone in changing the world by beginning with students in primary grades.

Engagement

We can start by teaching students how and why we recycle for a cleaner environment and even make informational videos to spread the word. We can also place recycle bins on campus to help prevent litter. This would be a great service project because students are introduced to both community outreach and the environment. It will teach children to understand the benefits of recycling as well as how to take care of the world they live in and do good for their community. Once schools collect the recyclables, they can exchange it for money and give to a charity or use it for a necessary cause at their school.

Another way for elementary students to engage in change is by installing a buddy bench at elementary schools to help prevent bullying and promote friendship. Buddy benches are a place for the children to sit when they are looking for a friend during their recess. It can make others feel included, and if they ever feel lonely, they have someone to talk to. The buddy bench can be very effective because it pushes the students to connect and show support for the other children without having to ask for assistance or involving a teacher. This is a great way for students in all grades to make a lot of new friends.

Young students can engage in change even further by spreading positivity, such as doing random acts of kindness or having a compliment day where each student writes a compliment and can get one in exchange. As students continue to spread positivity, it will become a habit in their everyday lives.

Empowerment

Elementary students can also get involved by participating in a poll survey. This allows students to speak up for themselves and feel empowered. A good example of this would be teachers asking the students what they think is a big problem at their school and why. Another example would be handing out sheets of paper with statements like, “I like to work by myself,” or, “I work best when it’s quiet,” paired with a yes-or-no answer box. This can help administrators stay up to date about what’s happening on their campuses. Students have a voice in what they think is and isn’t right, and it’s important that their opinions are heard.

Equity

For even wider impact, schools can host food or clothing drives for people in need, or collect donations for a toy drive such as Toys for Tots. Students can bring a toy to school before winter break to give to others around the holidays.

There are unlimited ways to engage in change at all ages! Together, we can create a positive ripple effect that can change the world. Most importantly, you should do it because you are passionate and because you want to, not for a title or resume—you must do it for you. Just remember, every single thing you do makes a difference.


 

Tiffany Garcia is a student at Palm Middle School in Moreno Valley, CA and a member of the NASSP Student Leadership Advisory Committee.