The 2008 presidential race drummed up enthusiasm and involvement among people — young and old — more than any other election in modern history. And President-elect Obama is calling on today's youth to keep the public service movement alive.
Kids of all ages have seen what working together for a cause can accomplish — and they want more. Now, preschoolers to teens feel more empowered than ever to do their part. The president-elect's public service plan calls for a required 50 hours of community service each year for all middle- and high-school students. Plus, new and expanded programs could offer many volunteer opportunities for adolescents. A new Green Job Corps aims to put disadvantaged teens to work weatherizing homes and a YouthBuild Program could get kids busy helping to construct affordable housing. And for the college set: A proposed hefty $4,000 tax credit for students logging 100 hours of community service per year.
What to Watch:
As new in-school programs reach out to young kids and time-honored organizations like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps likely to garner more funding and start drawing more eager applicants, we could see a public service ripple effect that lasts for years. More and more kids may start thinking about their post-graduation time in different, more socially aware ways, too. Of course, when the new administration's proposed goals might go into effect remains to be seen. But one thing's for sure: As kids and teens continue to give their time for worthy causes, these young humanitarians will grow up understanding the power of helping out and knowing that they can make a big difference.
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