Service Learning

The students on the Kestrel Team will partner with Youth Service America through a grant with Global Youth Service Grants to create a youth mentorship service learning project aimed at Childhood Obesity Education, and will take part in Global Youth Service Day.

The Kestrel Team of teachers was awarded a grant through Global Youth Service Grants, an organization which provides grants to motivate students to organize Global Youth Service Day projects across the country. Global Youth Service Day is the largest service event in the world. It aims to “mobilize youth to identify and address the needs of their communities through service, recruits the next generation of volunteers, and educates the public about the year-round contributions of young people as community leaders”.

The students on the Kestrel Team will join forces with Youth Service America (YSA), a non-profit resource center that partners with thousands of organizations throughout the world to expand the impact of youth service movements in their communities. The students will take part in the YSA’s First Responders Program whose mission is: Youth Addressing Childhood Obesity Through Service Learning. Our students will engage as “first responders” to the critical American issue of childhood obesity by developing a youth mentorship program with third grade classes in Cambridge Elementary School.

According to the Surgeon General, more than 17% of youth ages 2-19 years of age are overweight in the United States, and overweight youth have a 70% chance of being overweight or obese as adults. These overweight children are more likely to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (the number one killer in America), such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes. Childhood obesity has gained national attention, with programs springing up in schools across the country and even Michelle Obama is spearheading a national healthy eating campaign for youth.

Students will be introduced to the national crisis during the engaging activity of the unit, where two guest speakers will engage students in discussions on the issue and present the sobering statistics. They will brainstorm factors that could be contributing to this rise in unhealthy lifestyles, such as lack of regular exercise, long periods of television viewing and computer usage, overexposure to advertising that promotes high-calorie foods, lack of recreational activities, and high consumption of high-calorie foods. The students will then take part in the survey to create Word Splashes that see how they themselves as a youth community stack up. They will be presented with the question of Whose responsibility it is to address this problem? and come to the realization that they should be the “first responders” and be at the forefront of the solution. They will also learn/uncover how necessary it is to teach healthy behaviors from an early age, since lifelong habits are developed early. Physical activity and good nutrition are the cornerstones for preventing obesity and having role models to impress this upon children is so important. Throughout the first week of the unit, the team will discover the need for action, and come to realize the resources and guidance that are lacking in terms of healthy lifestyle development in their own community.

Through these activities and discussion, the students will develop the service learning project they want to take on (through guidance by the teachers). This project will be a community awareness and youth mentoring program, that will culminate with a Healthy Living Fair for the students in the Cambridge School as well as for the entire Cambridge Community. This Healthy Living Fair will also coordinate with Global Youth Service Day, so that the students can connect their hard work with a global movement.

What the Service Learning Project Will Entail:
Mentoring Program
The students will partner with the students in the 3rd grade at the Cambridge School to create a bi-weekly mentoring program. The focus of this program will be to educate younger children, who may have inadequate knowledge of healthy living habits or lack positive role models, through a buddy program. The students will educate the youth about how to make healthy choices in terms of activity, lifestyle, and food choice. By creating relationships between the children, and engaging them in exciting and education activities, both age groups will benefit through the knowledge learned. Activities will include:
· Rock Climbing- Boston Rock Climbing provides outreach programs and will set up structures in the gym one day for rock climbing and cooperative group activities
· Cooking Class- development and creation of easy to make and healthy snacks
· Yoga instruction
· Bike Club outing- students will meet after school one day for a biking trip along the Minuteman Bike Path
· Field Day Games- jumping rope, relay races, kick ball, obstacle courses
· Educational activities- read a-louds, slide show presentation, Word Splash survey
· Development of booth for 3rd graders to present at the Healthy Living Fair
· Daily Activity Log- students of both age groups will keep a daily log of their activities, and reflect upon the process in journal form before and after the activities. A culminating reflection will also occur for both age groups.

Service Learning in the Classroom

Service learning is most effective when it is directly and meaningfully tied back to the academic curriculum, so each of the content areas will be connected to the cause, and create awareness projects for the Healthy Living Fair.

In math students will be planning the community garden, which will have a organic vegetables that will be harvested for consumption in the school lunch program. The ground-breaking ceremony for the garden will occur at the Healthy Living Fair

In science students will be researching the diseases associated with adolescent and adult obesity and will create informational brochures to be handed out at the fair. The students will work in conjunction with the foreign language department to translate these brochures into Spanish and Creole so that they can benefit many different members of the community. Students will be in touch with the Cambridge Health Alliance, which have multiple branch locations throughout Cambridge and serve a diverse community, and copies of their pamphlets will be on hand for distribution at those locations as well.

Students in ELA will be creating and recording Public Service Announcements which will be shown at the fair.

Social Studies
Students in Social Studies will create informational podcasts about how a person's lifestyle affects their health, which will be displayed at the fair.

Students will create musical aerobic exercise videos that will be displayed and distributed at the fair.