The following stories are about young people who decided there was a need in their community, and then took action to meet that need. Some projects were one-time, and some are on going. These stories can inspire, infuriate, and empower youth to change the world, and adults to be partners.
1. Cleanin’ It Up and Changing Our Neighborhoods
Katie, 15, from Kansas City, Missouri, decided that her community’s streets were an eye sore and it was time to do something about it. “Cleaning up the streets is needed in my community because it looks trashy and I thought if we could clean it up, we could make a difference not only in my eyes, but other people’s eyes too. I would like to see a nice clean community that people care what it looks like.”
2. Takin’ Care of Kids: Teens Helping Kids
Rachel, 13, from Nashville, Tennessee, and her friends are concerned about children who have serious emotional disturbance (SED) so they created a hotline for kids to call, get advice or just talk. They also created a public service announcement about SED. “The ‘Kid Counselors’ give information and resources to the callers. We want to help bring awareness to the issues surrounding mental illness and help kids with SED to be accepted as an important part of our community.”
3. Voices of the Past: Recording the History to Affect the Future
Kristen, 14, from Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, records the thoughts and stories of World War II and Korean War veterans. “I think it will give the youth of my community a better understanding of what happened during the war. Hopefully, it will also give us a greater respect to the men and women who sacrificed their time, effort, support and sometimes lives so we can be free today.”
4. WE Own Our Communities: Knowledge is Power
Blair, 15, from Moorestown, New Jersey, has joined forces with community leaders to reclaim a neglected community center and continue to transform it into a library with computers for inner city kids. “Volunteerism opens a myriad of different culture and races, we have a unique opportunity to look at the work through their eyes and ‘walk in their shoes.’”
5. Taking Care of Ourselves: Bringing Youth Towards Economic Independence
Shawneequa, 17, from Norfolk, Virginia, started Youth Empowerment Virginia. The project is committed to assisting youth in reaching their academic, social and economic potential. The program fosters independence and responsibility, empowering more youth with their own desires to become active, constructive caring members of the community through better leadership skills, social skills and educational services.
6. Project Unity: Getting Students Voice Heard Through Technology
Project Unity was founded in November of 1999 by a group of students from schools across Washington County, Pennsylvania. Project Unity’s goals are to allow students to discuss school, community, or family problems with each other and to find a solution that will benefit all involved. Using today’s technology, they wish to unite a county and the people within that county to save time, money, and lives. This group feels that they can make a difference by relying on the principles of honesty, hard work, leadership, and perseverance. These students are the leaders of tomorrow, and they’re starting today.
You Might Like…
Freechild Institute Youth Toolkit
- “Success Stories” from the Youth Activism Project
- “Examples of Youth Civic Engagement in City Governments” by National League of Cities
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Institute can support youth changing the world in your community or organization, contact us.