The world is becoming more interconnected through communication, technology, finance and culture, and education is adapting to this reality. Social action is being integrated into school curricula and can be implemented in afterschool programs that will benefits students as they:
- make a difference in people's lives,
- develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills,
- learn the power of teamwork, and
- build self-confidence.
Social action can take many forms, but it is important to follow a few general rules.
Create a unit based on a pressing social issue. Help students connect with the issue. For example, if the students want to help people in their community who are homeless, help them understand the reasons why people lose their homes and the issues they face. Explore the services and organizations that exist to help people who are facing homelessness.
Plan a course of action. Ask students for their ideas about how to help, then set goals and decide how to accomplish these goals. Involving students deepens their commitment, so if one says, "Maybe we could help a homeless shelter cook food," you can respond by saying what a great idea that is and can help the students form an action plan.
Make the project as hands-on and fun as possible. The students' energy will rub off on everyone. And, there's an added benefit - when youth find themselves in the role of being the helper for the first time, they feel empowered.
When they reach their goals, ask students to reflect on what they have done. Ask a representative from the benefitting organization to speak to the students to explain what their hard work has accomplished. Ask the students to produce a play or digital presentation about their work to share with their families and community.
As a result of social action programs, students become more aware of their world and the roles they can play in helping others.