In one of my last posts I questioned whether some instances of community service activities were self-serving. I had in mind the “one-off” short term activity that seems to have little lasting impact on kids.
Today I would like to report on Havergal College’s Forum for Change, part of The Havergal Institute, which very successfully works toward making service an integral part of their students’ lives. To quote from the Institute’s literature “The Institute was conceived as a way to enable the evolution of Havergal’s mission from community service to self-efficacy and global capability. Making a difference is to live an effective life in the 21st Century.”
The vision for this programme was developed in 2005 by Bruce Mau in collaboration with faculty and staff at Havergal. Havergal College is a girls’ day and boarding school in Toronto, where 80% of their secondary level students are involved in the Forum for Change. The school’s focus for the 2010/2011 school year is “The World: It’s Our School” and addresses the UN Millennium Development Goal of Education.
Ann Peel, Director of The Institute, indicates that 267 students are actively involved, on a year-round basis, with a wide variety of local community projects and 93 students are involved in outreach activities beyond the local community. Ann remarks that the school’s goal is to have students “making a difference in everything that they do” the assumption being that the girls’ experiences through the programme will have a lasting impact in their lives rather than being the “one-off” event.
It is well worth looking at the philosophy of the Institute and the variety of programmes on the Havergal Institute website. This vibrant learning community “… ignites students to think about how their ideas can support shared humanity and moral courage” and supports them in their actions.
What are the lessons that year-round community service can teach a student? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.