Junior and senior English students brainstormed a broad list of issues and needs of concern to them. Each student then identified the top three issues that she or he would most like to address through a service-learning project, did some basic research on those issues, and presented findings to the class. After listening to each other’s presentations, the students selected three local issues they felt were prevalent: eating disorders, prescription drug abuse, and lack of resiliency in teens. The students then met with two local organizations, Healthy Acadia and Acadia Family Center, to discuss how they could help address these community concerns.
With input from their community partners, the students decided to organize and host a community forum, “Not in Our Town,” to promote discussion of these problems. To prepare for the forum, the students researched the history, causes and effects of each problem, and identified potential solutions (involving direct approaches, education and policy). Each student also selected and read daily an independent book related to one of the three problems.
The class decided that the forum should include student presentations of their research and possible solutions; a panel discussion with local experts; and a question- and-answer time. After inviting and confirming the panelists, the students promoted the forum with posters, personalized invitations, press releases and a local radio presentation.
The forum was a great success, with the audience engaged in a lively discussion. Through the radio show and forum discussions, the students helped raise awareness and prompt community action to address eating disorders, prescription drug abuse, and strengthening of resiliency in teens.