Teaching Students Generosity: Service Learning Projects at Starr

handsome teen volunteer cleaning streets with friends

At Starr Commonwealth, generosity is an important part of what we teach the young people in our care. It is part of the Circle of Courage®, a model of positive youth development that we use to help young people become emotionally healthy. To help students understand how to be generous, we use a variety of service learning projects in our local communities.

One popular project is the Battle Creek Food Back. Students help to pack up donated, non-perishable food items for a local food bank, and assist community members in loading their vehicles. These youths learn different ways in which people may need support, giving them a better understanding of how they can help. One student says, “I enjoy being able to do projects that involves us with the community and my interaction with other people. Being allowed to help them is a new experience for me.”

Students in Albion are also a part of the Beautification of Albion project, where they spend time planting flowers and prepping the city for the upcoming summer.“I enjoy being able to give back to my community and help others who have shown they support us.” Being supported by the community encourages youths to give back when they have the opportunity, and Starr provides them with that.

Not all service learning projects are physically demanding. At the Maplewood Nursing Home, students spend quality time with the elderly residents, doing art projects, playing games, and just having conversations. After one of these visits, a student told their staff member,“I really love helping people. It makes me feel like I am doing the right thing and it makes me feel happy to see others happy.”

Youths come to Starr for a variety of reasons, but they are all taught about the importance of giving back to their community, and helping those who need it. As one student put it recently, “I like giving back to the people in the community. I’m not used to giving not taking.”