Students can sometimes forget how vital their voices are to the world around them. They may feel they are too young to make a difference or inexperienced to make impactful contributions. That couldn’t be further from the truth. As future leaders, students must get involved in their communities and make a difference.
There are many ways for students to contribute to their communities, such as volunteering, starting a fundraiser, or becoming involved in local politics. In this article, education advocate, Dennis Bonnen shares tips for ways students can get involved and make a difference in their communities.
Volunteering is one of the best ways to get involved in your community because the options are endless. You can volunteer at a local soup kitchen after class, walk dogs at an animal shelter on the weekends, or help out at an after-school program. Whatever you’re interested in, there is an organization that could use your help.
Can’t find a place to volunteer that fits your interests? Start your own volunteer program. If you’re passionate about environmentalism, start a community garden. Love working with kids? Organize a tutoring program at your local library. There is no wrong way to offer your time and energy to make your community a better place.
2. Start a Fundraiser
Are you the most organized person you know? Use your skills to start a fundraiser for a cause you care about. There are many possibilities for fundraisers, from bake sales and car washes to more complex events, like galas and fashion shows. You can even start an online fundraiser with just a few clicks.
Not sure where to start? Dennis Bonnen recommends checking out websites like GoFundMe and DonorChoose, which allow you to pick a cause or charity to support and get started with your fundraiser. Your fundraiser, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, might even go viral and make a serious impact.
3. Get Involved in Local Politics
Don’t be fooled into thinking that local politics are boring. The decisions made by city councilors and school board members directly impact your life. If there’s an issue you care about in your community, get involved in the political process and make your voice heard.
Dennis Bonnen advises the best way to get involved in local politics is to research the candidates running for office and attend local town halls to learn more about their platforms. Getting involved is much easier when you understand what’s going on and who is fighting for what.
Check out VoteSmart, a website that provides information on elected officials at all levels of government, as well as voting records and contact information. Another great resource is Ballotpedia, which offers information on ballot measures and elections in your area. Getting involved in local politics is a great way to ensure your voice is heard on the issues that matter to you.
4. Join or Start a Community Group
Community groups are a great way to get involved in your community and meet like-minded people. If there isn’t a group already established that meets your interests, start your own! All you need is a few passionate people and some simple planning.
Try searching online or on social media to find existing groups in your area. Facebook is a great place to start, as there are groups for almost everything imaginable. You can also check out Meetup, a website that helps people find and join local groups.
5. Speak Up
The most important thing you can do to make a difference in your community is to speak up. Whether you’re advocating for a cause, you care about or standing up to bullying, your voice matters. So don’t be afraid to use it.
If you see something happening that isn’t right, say something. If you’re unsure what to do, many organizations can help, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. You can also find support from your family, friends, and teachers. Speaking up may be scary, but making your community a better place is worth it.
Voting is one of the most important ways to make your voice heard and have a say in what happens in your community. If you’re unsure how to register to vote or where your polling place is, sites like Vote.org can help. Once you’re registered, make sure to exercise your right to vote by heading to the polls on election day.
You can also encourage others to vote, especially if they are part of a group that is underrepresented in politics. For example, you can help people with disabilities register to vote or talk to first-time voters about the importance of their vote. Voting is a great way to make a difference in your community, so make sure your voice is heard.
There are many ways that students can contribute to their communities. Suppose you’re passionate about your community and want to make a difference. In that case, multiple organizations are always searching for volunteers, such as soup kitchens, animal shelters, and after-school programs. You can also get involved in local politics or start your own community group. And finally, don’t forget the importance of speaking up and voting to make your voice heard on the issues that matter to you.