Boy mowing someone's lawn.

Service Benefits At-Risk Youth, Too! Why Wait?

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In previous blogs we talked about engaging students — both high-schoolers and youngsters — in helpful service to others. We also shared that being involved in service activities can bring specific benefits to young people.Boy mowing someone's lawn.

It’s interesting that service is an instruction that Christ gave us, too (Matthew 25:31-35). We should guide our young ones to get involved in helping others simply because it is a directive of Christ — although children reap many benefits as well.

These benefits also extend to at-risk students who may have difficulty in school. Schools that specialize in teaching kids from troubled backgrounds are often referred to as alternative schools.

Alternative schools typically offer non-traditional education. Many are designed for students who’ve struggle because they’ve had academic failures, or their parents are troubled. These schools often provide specialized education. Wikipedia states: “This type of school is intended to accommodate students who are considered at risk of failing academically (these students are referred as at-risk students), for one or more of any several reasons such as challenging behavior; or a school with special remedial programs for students with emotional disabilities.”

Several studies of alternative schools reveal positive academic changes when students participate in service-learning.

In one Michigan study, students enrolled in a service-learning option scored higher than their nonparticipating peers on the Michigan state assessment.

A study in Kansas found that alternative school students in service-learning continued strongly improving (over time) in their attitude toward school, their writing scores on a six-trait writing assessment, and their GPAs.

Even troubled students reap lifelong benefits from engaging in active, helpful service to others in need. Why not ask God: “Lord, give me the vision to see opportunities to engage youngsters in service to others!”

(This article is part of a series on service. View:  <Previous  Next>)

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.