1) The teens are making a difference and are willing to make time in their overly busy lives
2) They feel more comfortable bringing friends to a service activity
3) They are exposed to a variety of adults who live out their faith in a number of ways
4) You can tailor the activities to match the learning styles and interests of those in the group
5) It can be done as part of ongoing outreach activities
6) Pairing with another church or service group in town is an option.
One caution, service learning of this type requires significant planning, both of the activity and for leading the conversation reflecting on the activity. Although encouraging input from the teens on ideas is one way to start, doing some research beforehand will help the planning process.
Here are some ideas to get you going (adapted from the Forma Facebook page)
For outgoing teens
- Tech day- Have a time to teach less tech-savvy folks to use email, Facebook, hashtags, Smartphones, apps they might enjoy. Could happen at a Senior center or even coffee hour.
- Performances- Work up a series of skits or musical numbers. Perform them at the local nursing home or hospital.
- Animal Shelter- See if the local animal shelter could use a day of help.
For crafty teens
- Cards- Make cards for shut-ins
- Hats- Have someone come in and teach the kits to knit hats. They could go to the local homeless shelter. Mariners http://seamenschurch.org/christmas-at-sea, or children’s hats for local schools (check with the school nurse)
- Blankets- Invite a local quilter, knitter or crocheted to teach the teens to make small blankets for Project Linus http://www.projectlinus.org/about/
- Cooking- Have a casserole night to make and freeze casseroles of various sizes for parishioners in need. (Side benefit, teens get practice cooking and working together)
For active teens
- Help out Seniors and Single parent families- rake leaves in the fall, clear walkways of ice in the winter, yard clean up in the spring, do “heavy lifting” indoor projects
- Skill projects- Invite a carpenter, plumber, handyperson, to each basic repair skills. Offer a “repair day” to those who need it. (Have your skilled person come along to oversee the project).
- Road clean up- Check with your town to see where they could use help
There are always groups that are in need of specific items. Contact them and see how your group can help. Some groups to check out are; food pantries, homeless shelters, animal shelters, domestic violence shelters, local elementary schools, and Head-start programs.
I’m sure there are many other options and that you have much that you could add to the list. Let me know and so we can share our experiences.