Let’s Serve Others

I start most of my days at my local YMCA. Recently, the Y posted a sign inviting us to participate in a program called, “Empowering Yourself and Others.” I’d like to put a different spin on that. I like to think that by empowering others, we empower ourselves. And how do we empower others? By serving them.

In fact, I believe the best training for leadership comes by learning to serve others. We lead best when we seek the welfare of those we lead, when we seek to serve rather than be served. At Lead2Play, we call that “service learning.”

  1. What is Service Learning?

The idea of “service-learning” is spreading across the nation, encouraging schools to adopt teaching and learning strategies “that integrate meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.”1 Our Lead2Play program and its curriculum offer young people the chance to lead real service-learning projects within their own communities, learning real life lessons along the way.

Service learning involves teaching and learning that connects academics, personal growth and civic responsibility with positive and meaningful action. This means having a service learning program that engages students to develop new skills and knowledge through the integration of an academic curriculum—such as the Lead2Play video curriculum—and provides them with opportunities to apply their skills and knowledge with meaning and purpose to improve their communities and their world.

  1. Why do service and leadership go together?

At Lead2Play we use the words “service” and “leadership” together. Why? Usually, when you think of leadership you think of someone who’s the top dog. They’re the people who tell other people what to do. However, at Lead2Play/L2P we are committed to the idea that true leadership is about taking responsibility for working with others on shared goals and common values. You can’t do that without serving the people you work with.

Service-based leadership and learning provide opportunities within service learning programs to:

    • Receive appropriate leadership training
    • Collaborate with peers and younger students
    • Develop cross-cultural competencies
    • Build life skills and character
    • Enhance communication, creativity and critical thinking skills
    • Lead in a variety of ways and situations
  1. Service uplifts us all

The vision of helping young people understand the world, and believing they can be active contributors in making our world a better place is central to our work at Lead2Play.

A service-learning approach helps students connect the concepts they are learning in class to the real challenges facing our communities and our world. For example, through the experience of working in teams to create a “Just for Fun” sports league for students who are unable to make the usual school teams, or who are new to play and physical activity, students gain a greater understanding of the value and challenges of exercising leadership. Using our designed intentional reflection, we help students articulate and make meaning of their learning and critically evaluate the impact of their service.

We have found service-learning helps many students develop a passion for a particular cause or for solving problems that are immediate and relevant to them. In turn, this provides youth with an increased sense of control over a world that can often seem confusing and frightening. Perhaps nowhere has this been witnessed more visibly than with the students of Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They have taken a situation over which they had no control and turned it into an opportunity to affect change that could serve generations of young people to come. Whether you agree or disagree with their position, you cannot argue that they are not a powerful example of service and leadership.



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