Best Activities for High School Students: Aiming High with Community-Based Projects
"We learned that by just looking around our community, we could identify a problem and then work together to solve it.”
-Tranquil Teens (DFC)
Social Change Matters Today
We’re at a time in history where the onset of the pandemic has left many people making a living and navigating their day-to-day activities behind a computer screen. The COVID-19 pandemic has really changed the dynamic in how we even communicate with one another. Our young high school students who will become thriving adults in a few years, are feeling that sense of disconnect and isolation more than ever. If they’re observing a societal problem in their communities, or somewhere beyond their classroom doors, how do they make change? Or better yet, who do they connect with to express their concern? That’s such a trivial question for our young students who are going to school amid a global pandemic.
However, this is the best time for our educators and parents to reassure our students that their voice and actions matter. We don’t encourage our students to sit on the sidelines and feel discouraged when they see room for positive change and progression. We want to keep them inspired to be part of that change and movement, even during an ongoing global health crisis.
The great thing about young minds is that their level of creativity and innovation is endless! There’s digital opportunities and ideas they can present to community-based projects that can help increase visibility that others may not consider. We don’t want to hinder their motivation to create change in their communities when their passion and talent can prove to make the most impact. As educators, let’s continue to hold their hand and support their progress, from beginning to end. School life is not all about academics, games, friends and fun. In fact, it is also about learning to interact with other people, being aware of the social inequities and learning to amend the deformities present in our society.
Students Highlight their DFC Projects
Design for Change USA (DFC) platform offers the appropriate tools and resources to lead our young teens and students to create and implement the social change they desire throughout their communities. The platform highlights the great work of tons of students who are taking on big issues and solving them right from their classroom, after school program, camps, and their homes. It’s time to spread the news and let our young teens and high school students know that the impact they can make is just a click away.
A 2019 DFC project included the JPII High School, which launched a Social Innovation Lab to learn about challenges facing Collin County, located in Texas. The project primarily focused on food insecurity faced by teens in the area. The lab trained students to use human-centered design to innovate solutions. Students interacted with the people, places and experiences involved in the social issues they chose to address to gain empathy, build cultural understanding, and design skills.
It was an ongoing and useful project for the students. They shared their project story, lessons learned and recommendations with the leadership of the North Texas Food Bank, their community partner. They highlighted the insights they obtained from the teen interviews and surveys. As a result, The North Texas Food Bank leader that students presented to became interested in integrating the insights generated and included the proof of concepts they tested into the food bank’s 2020 initiatives. You can follow the teens on their journey with this social initiative and witness firsthand the growth, progression and strong sense of teamwork they developed to have such a positive and memorable outcome with the food bank. It’s admirable work that not only positively affects the lives of those living in poverty, but also brings a great deal of purpose and meaning to those teens knowing their hard work made such a huge difference.
The Tranquil Teens Project was another powerful project that helped teens find ways to prevent stress and anxiety often associated with school, work, family, social media and peer pressure. We can all relate to the added stress we’ve all experienced with the onset of the pandemic in 2020. What better time than now for such timely and relevant work that affects so many of us across the country.
Students shared their work with thousands of people through the In a Perfect World Network. They also shared their project with fellow ambassadors in Washington, D.C. and Toronto – who are now doing the work in their communities. The teens were also asked to present at Kid's Peace Festival in Los Angeles and at In a Perfect World's "Perfect Day" Wellness Summit. Today, the students are inspired to continue sharing and note, “We want to keep our project going by taking our campaign to other schools and classrooms, so that other teens can be inspired and help share the message for us. It should spread from teen to teen so that everyone can have access to the tools!”
Becoming Part of the DFC Movement
Let’s spread the word and have other students gain similar experiences in the DFC Movement. There, they’ll:
Learn how to design solutions and build critical and creative thinking skills
Gain exclusive access to DFC activities, resources and tools
Track, document and share your journey to inspire others
Become part of a global community of students leading change
Our world is desperately waiting for positive change. If everyone in this world undertakes at least one social responsibility, then the world will definitely be a better place to live. Students can take initiative at such a young age and set an inspiration for others. Encourage students to join the movement today. After all, our students are the future of our nation.