The spirit of Global Youth Services Day is focused on engaging youth in service projects and volunteerism within their local communities. Despite its local focus, the day is celebrated in more than 100 countries across the globe. This year, on April 15th, four schools were involved in providing community service at six sites around town. Approximately 200 student volunteers and 34 adult SAGA volunteers participated. The day began at the SAGA Shop where AmeriCorps members were given an overview of the day’s activities before departing to their respective school and service sites.
Planning for the day’s events officially began in February, and grew to encompass students from every age group within the school district. Students from Yaakoosge Daakahidi, Floyd Dryden, Montessori and Gastineau Elementary participated in various sites around town. A class from Yaakoosge assisted with service work at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. A group of approximately 60 sixth graders from Floyd Dryden held a drive to collect Used Childrens Toys and Books which have been donated to organizations within Juneau. The drive began April 1st and ran until April 15th at which time students presented the donations to SAGA volunteers for distribution. Remaining items from the drive are currently being held with the Southeast Alaska United Way for a joint donation effort to Ketchikan’s Salvation Army, thus giving this year’s Global Youth Services Day a regional impact. In addition to these projects, young children from Montessori were invited to an arts and crafts session with elders at Wildflower Court. To top off the day, multiple classes at Gastineau Elementary participated in improving their schools cross country ski trail. A full culvert and rock bridge were put in place within the day, a notable accomplishment that will serve to enhance the students’ enjoyment of their trail.
The Southeast Alaska Guidance Association first organized Global Youth Services Day in Juneau in 1995. In prior years, a large component of the day involved engaging area high school students in litter pick up’s. This year however, the focus was given a more centralized aim due to the large number of younger grades involved.
According to the Global Youth Services Day website, gysd.org, an estimated 475,700 youth volunteered their time this year at approximately 4,000 sites worldwide. This translates into hundreds of thousands of hour’s worth of community service work conducted around the world in just one day. The youth of Juneau can count themselves among the many positive youth who helped out their local community on a global scale. A special thanks to all the schools and service sites who participated this year as well as Safeway, Southeast Alaska Food Bank, Fred Meyer and Walmart for their contributions.