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Design for Change USA Challenge: the 2015 Winners Take on Recycling

February 10th, 2016

DESIGN FOR CHANGE (USA) is a global movement of young people who are changing the world! One of the opportunities that DFC offers youth groups is outlined below:

  • Who: Any group of young people (K-8) with an adult mentor e.g., teacher, parent, youth leader, coach.
  • How: Teams dream up and lead social change projects in their own schools/communities using DFC curriculum and training, along with the web portal and other resources.
  • What: Teams are expected to fully implement, present and submit their social change project to DFC USA by the deadline: May 15, 2016.
  • Winners will be announced May 30, 2016.  (Learn more about contest rules here.)

We are pleased to share with you one of the Design for Change USA projects from young people across the nation. We hope you will join them in BEING THE CHANGE!

DFC USA Winners 2015

John Winthorp Elementary School, Boston

Design for Change

February 8th, 2016

We like to highlight resources of agencies that work with youth to develop leadership skills and provide opportunities for youth to give back. In this post, we want to introduce Design for Change:


DESIGN FOR CHANGE (USA) is a global initiative empowering young people to be agents of change in their own schools and communities. Through hands on training, a design thinking curriculum and robust technology platform, DFC engages young people in social change, helping them build their character, capacity and confidence. Once complete, students are required to submit a short video detailing the evolution of their project. These videos are scored and a team of young people from the USA are selected to participate in the annual DFC global conference involving students from 35+ countries.

For more information, please visit:

Check out their web for resources, lesson plans and activities to engage youth in service-learning!


8 Ways to Publicly Honor Youth Leaders and Contributers

August 12th, 2015
  1. Hang pictures of youth and their achievements in your building
  2. Nominate them for awards and scholarships; even if they aren’t selected, you can announce the nomination
  3. Ask for a proclamation (recognition) from the city council/mayor’s office
  4. Submit an article for a newspaper, professional magazine, or the local TV news
  5. Give youth job titles (displays importance of roles; can use on resumes)
  6. Describe their work in the company newsletter or through a display
  7. Brag about them on social media—Twitter, Facebook, Flikr, or YouTube videos (double impact because it promotes your organization as their friends see the content)
  8. Invite them to speak on behalf of your agency at public events

These ideas are from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

8 Simple Gifts to Celebrate Youth Achievements

May 27th, 2015
  1. Make a certificate that highlights their work
  2. Give them candy with a note attached:
    • Starbursts—you are a star student
    • Kudos—we’re grateful for you
    • Almond Joy—you bring joy to our group!
  3. Surprise them with a hot chocolate or lollipop party
  4. Bake a thank you cake or cupcakes
  5. Give gift certificates to their favorite places
  6. Make CDs or iTunes playlists with songs that commemorate their achievements
  7. Provide a free meal or soda
  8. Handwrite a note expressing what you appreciate about them

Want to learn more?  Check out our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Gift from a Stranger, Gift from Above

March 5th, 2014
Our final sharing of great stories from the Caring Child Contest.  
An eye witness account from New York
City , on a cold day in December,
some years ago: A little boy,
about 10-years-old, was standing before a shoe store on the
roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering
With cold.
   A lady approached the young boy and said,
  ‘My, but you’re in such deep thought staring in that window!’
‘I was asking God to give me a pair of
shoes,’  was the boy’s reply.
   The lady took him by the hand, went into
  the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks
for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water
and a towel. He quickly brought them to her.
She took the little fellow to the back
part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed
his little  feet, and dried them with the towel.
By this time, the clerk had returned with
the socks.. Placing a pair upon the boy’s feet, she purchased him
a pair of shoes..
  She tied up the remaining pairs of socks
and gave them to him.. She patted him on the head and said, ‘No
doubt, you will be more comfortable now..’
   As she turned to go, the astonished kid
caught her by the hand, and looking up into her face, with tears
in his eyes, asked her,   ‘Are you God’s wife?’
Do YOU have a great story from a child’s life that you want to share?  Comment or send it our way! Let the good vibes continue!

The Power of Valuing Each One

February 26th, 2014
Here, we share the fourth winner in the Caring Child Contest.
Whenever I’m disappointed with my spot
in life, I stop and think about little Jamie Scott.
    Jamie was trying out for a part in the
school play. His mother told me that he’d set his heart on being
in it, though she feared he would not be chosen..
    On the day the parts were awarded, I went
with her to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her,
eyes shining with pride and excitement..  ‘Guess what, Mom,’ he
shouted, and then said those words that will remain a lesson to
me….’I’ve been chosen to clap and  cheer.’
I love how the teacher made this child feel valued and valuable!  There is no too small role – everyone counts!


Belief, Resilence and Baseball: Caring Child Contest

September 17th, 2013
In this week’s highlight of great stories of things kids do and say, we have #3 on the list from the caring child contest.  Enjoy!
On my way home one day, I stopped to
watch a Little League base ball game that was being played in a
park near my home. As I sat down behind the bench on the first-
base line, I asked one of the boys what the score was.
    ‘We’re behind 14 to nothing,’ he answered
With a smile.
  ‘Really,’ I said. ‘I have to say you
don’t look very discouraged.’
  ‘Discouraged?’, the boy asked with a
puzzled look on his face…
‘Why should we be discouraged? We haven’t
been up to bat yet.’


Caring Child

September 10th, 2013
If you missed last week’s blog, we’re sharing the top 5 stories from a Caring Child Contest that came our way via e-mail.  Here’s #2.
Teacher Debbie Moon’s first graders were
discussing a picture of a family. One little boy in the picture
had a different hair color than the other members. One of her
students suggested that he was adopted.
   A little girl said, ‘I know all about
adoption, I was adopted..’
   ‘What does it mean to be adopted?’, asked
  another child.
‘It means’, said the girl, ‘that you grew
in your mommy’s heart instead of her tummy!’


The Most Caring Child Contest

September 3rd, 2013
Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once
talked about a contest he was asked to judge.
The purpose of the
contest was to find the most caring child.
We want to share the stories during the next five weeks. ENJOY!
    The winner was:
1.  A four-year-old child, whose next door
neighbor was an elderly gentleman, who had recently lost his
wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old
gentleman’s’ yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
   When his mother asked him what he had
said to the neighbor, the little boy just said, ‘Nothing, I just
helped him  cry.’


The Charlie Schultz Philosophy

May 2nd, 2012

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip.

You don’t have to actually answer the questions. Just ponder on them. Then keep reading, and you’ll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series Winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.
These are no second-rate achievers.
They are the best in their fields.
But the applause dies..
Awards tarnish.
Achievements are forgotten.
Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1 List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special!!
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials… The most money..or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most. (That’s the power of the SUPPORT asset!)

Thanks Cindy, for passing this along!

Win a Spot at Google Zeitgeist Americas 2011!

September 2nd, 2011

 If you’re between 18 and 24 and regularly rock the world with your innovative solutions to social problems, we want to hear from you!

SparkAction has partnered with UK-based Livity to search for “future world changers” who are the pioneers and leaders of tomorrow. Enter the Young Minds competition and you could be one of 12 exceptional young people selected to attend Google’s annual invitation-only, two-day Zeitgeist Americas event—where you’ll rub elbows with the likes of Black Eye Peas superstar Will.I.Am, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Stephen Hawking and Queen Rania of Jordan. You’ll also get tailormade master classes from Google. The Young Minds competition is sponsored by Google and hosted on YouTube.

Need more answers? Visit

(reposted from Search Institute)

Looking for a service-learning grant?

August 26th, 2011

The National Youth Leadership Council® and State Farm® have $2,000 Project Ignition grants for public high school students and teachers to address teen driver safety through service-learning. Applications are due November 15, 2011.  For more information, visit

Looking for a Way to Get Kids Writing Creatively?

August 22nd, 2011

Your children/teens might like this creative writing contest for kids ages 4-13:

My 4 year old daughter started writing her story by choosing picture cards from her “Tell Me a Story” deck.  Then she ordered the cards to create a story.  Then she named her characters.  She practiced telling the story to me, then she recorded her story with the QuickVoice ap on the ipad.  Then we looked on our v-tech globe to pick places the magic boat could visit.  Then she drew pictures of the main characters.  Then I typed the story for her, and she added pieces to make the story longer.  It was such a fun project to work on together, and I hope many more children will write stories!  She’s proudly telling her friends that she has written her own book.  What a great contest!

Everyday Young Hero Award from Youth Service America

August 17th, 2011

Youth Service America features an Everyday Young Hero each week in the National Service Briefing.  Do you know a youth hero?  Nominate him/her for the award here.

Earth Day Celebration Ideas from Envirolist

April 15th, 2011

Envirolist has many ideas for organizers of Earth Day events – from simple to complex, from classroom-size to citywide events.  Here are some that caught my eye, but check out their full list with details for project ideas at

Earth day pledge

Letters to politicians

Grocery Bags on Earth Day!


Community Report Card

Construct an environmental maze

Build a Life-sized Sculpture of Recycled Materials

Conduct an Ecothon

Give “Environmental Hero” Awards

Hold a Dirty Sock Contest

Paint an educational Earth Day mural