May 13, 2011

Youthlinks Afterschool Programs Teach Civic Responsibility

Filed under: Teens — Sue Dirosario @ 8:03 pm

There are lots of extracurricular activities that students can choose do
after school, from organized sports to piano lessons to babysitting, but this
winter six students at Troy Howard Middle School chose to spend their Thursdays
engaging in community service, through Youthlinks’ Community Service Club. Over
the course of nine weeks, the 6th and 7th graders found a
variety of ways to meaningfully engage  with other members of their local
community and the wider circle of the world. The students’ first mission in the
club was to make a meal for the St. Francis Soup Kitchen located in the Belfast
Community Center. After a fieldtrip to the soup kitchen the students spent 2
hours making an enormous quantity of meatballs and pasta sauce for a pasta
dinner. In the weeks following, they baked cat and dog treats and delivered them
to the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League, where they spent the afternoon
socializing with cats and walking dogs awaiting adoption. It was a particularly
cold day and while walking a very small shivering dog, it was touching to
witness the students’ empathy as they scooped her up and took turns tucking her
in their jackets until they were able to get back to the shelter. The students
also made recycled crayons and drew coloring pages for a preschool classroom at
Broadreach’s all-inclusive preschool program, visiting the next week to lead a
coloring activity and spend some time acting as mentors to younger kids. In
addition, participants made thank-you cards for soldiers serving overseas and a
large pot of soup for an empty bowl dinner fundraiser. For the last meeting the
group broadened the scope of their service by discussing the recent natural
disaster in Japan and folding paper cranes for the Students Rebuild project,
which donated $2 to reconstruction in Japan for every paper crane made and
mailed to their organization.
Youthlinks’ spring program just got underway as well—another
community-service oriented program called “Play With Your Food.” This program is
a collaboration between Youthlinks and Broadreach’s all-inclusive preschool
program located at Mill Lane in Belfast. Youthlinks participants from Troy
Howard are meeting each week to plan healthy, creative snacks for preschoolers
and an activity to accompany the snack. In their first week together, the
students had a great time teaching the preschoolers how to make a fruit-face
snack. The objective is for both the younger and older kids to see that eating
healthy foods can in fact be tasty and fun. So far, the students seem to

The Play With Your Food program is currently meeting Thursdays 2:30-5pm,
through June 9th.  All Youthlinks programs are free and open to all
students ages 12-15. For more information or to register a student, contact
Ashley at 975-3878.
Youthlinks is a program of Broadreach Family & Community Services located
in Rockland that provides youth with community service, leadership and
enrichment opportunities. These programs help youth learn skills, build
self-esteem, cultivate social responsibility, develop leadership abilities and
connect to their peers, to adult mentors, and to their communities. Youthlinks
is funded primarily by state grants and the generous donations of individuals,
businesses, and foundations. All Youthlinks programs are free for participating
youth. For more information, visit www.youthlinksonline.org, or call 207-594-2221