Community service: happiness, leadership, and a better environment

Kaitlyn Keyes, Photography Editor

The world belongs to all of us. And, as cheesy as it may sound, it is truly our job to protect it. Even as high schoolers, we have an obligation to give back to the community and help in any way we can. If we want the world to improve, we must all do our part.
But while this is all well and good in theory and although everyone always nods along to the idea of helping our planet, our actions don’t often reflect our words. For high schoolers, the actual doing usually falls upon the shoulders of only a handful of students. In fact, a poll undertaken by The Corporation for National and Community Service reveals that only 38 percent of high schoolers actually participate in community service. More than half of the high school population–62 percent–do not take part in any form of community service. Imagine the difference it would make if all high schoolers actively did their part and volunteered their time.
Even beyond volunteering simply to help the community and save the environment, it is important that all students should take part in serving their community. Community service, and the added responsibility that it requires, can prove to be beneficial to the students themselves. A different poll performed by The Corporation for National and Community Service shows that there is a high correlation between doing well in school and volunteering in your community; students that volunteer reportedly perform better in school than those who don’t. This is likely because community service is proven to increase student responsibility, teach student integrity, and build leadership skills. Community service exposes students to a unique environment where they are able to take a more direct leadership role in efforts to better improve the community–and to a surprising emotional affect.
Being engaged in something worthwhile and meaningful makes people feel psychologically happier. According to a paper by Dr. Suzanne Richards, a professor from the University of Exeter Medical School, community service is also proven to aid in combating depression by increasing connections between individuals as well as connecting people within the community as a whole. Students who are engaged in any type of community service in high school–whether it’s as simple as ringing a bell outside QFC or picking up litter off the side of the highway–often become more involved in civic activities in their community henceforth.
Students, regardless of whether they are honors or not, should partake in community service, to better the world and themselves.