Sunday, June 15, 2014

Compassion Relays and Service Learning

To Casady Cyclones Parents

The Service-Learning Program is starting a fun event called the “Compassion Relays” as part of our Service-Learning activities for the school year 2014-2015.  Service Learning promotes compassion in 3 ways: Caring for others, caring for self, and caring for the Earth.  As part of Service-Learning, youth think and do positive things that help make the world a better place.   We want them to realize that every positive step they take matters.

The Cyclones Kindness Team will play the Compassion Relays twice a year:
Peace Week-11 Days of Global Unity
9/11-9/21 (International Day of peace
Random Acts of Kindness Week - RAK Week

During the Compassion Relays, youth will write or they may create art, photos, videos to express a thought or an act that reflects their compassionate Service-Learning.  To do this, they will have to pay close attention to the service activities promoted around school by different classes, clubs, service teams like YAC, YLOKC, the Peace and RAK Week teams. 

The activities could be as simple as coming to the Service-Learning Office at the Casady Wing to make a pinwheel or crane with their thoughts of compassion, kindness, service and peace, connecting their passion for music, dance, or a sport to the Kids Fair @ Boys and Girls Club on September 20th sponsored by the Casady YAC/YLOKC Peace Team or participating in a Recipiece Brunch on International Day of Peace, September 21, 2014 before attending the Interfaith youth Tour, where Casady YAC/YLOKC Peace team members will facilitate the reflective component of the tour OR anything your child will personally do to care for others, stay healthy, and care for the earth

We encourage you to support your child in these habits of positive "thinking and doing" in their daily lives.  A simple tip is to make it fun.  Join with your child to discover compassion in your daily life.  We want to make it a simple and fun habit.

Examples of simple ways to do the Compassion Relays with children and youth:

1.  Have each youth keep a personal daily journal for 1 week; or,
2.  Have each youth create a personal folder/scrapbook with their
drawings/writings/ cut-out pictures from magazines/ photos that express their Service-Learning thoughts/acts each day for 1 week; or,
3.  Create a compassionate Service-Learning mural or banner- youth write/draw on the mural/banner each day for 1 week; or,
4.  Do a “show and tell.” Each day youth are given homework to find a photo or video that shows how they translate the Service-Learning into their own lives and then each morning 1-2 youth share with the class/group; or,
5.  Have youth write down their Service-Learning thought/act each day on a slip of paper and drop it off with the teacher/youth group leader before they leave for the day.

Thank you for your support!


The Compassion Relays and Service-Learning
Service-Learning Definitions and Information
From the service-learning definitions and information of the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC):  Service-learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities. Service-learning projects work best when they fit the ages and developmental abilities of the participants, include interesting and engaging service activities, explore the context of the underlying societal issues the service addresses, and address needs that are important to the community being served.

The NYLC diagram represents the service-learning process:  As the diagram illustrates, the service-learning process doesn't end when a service activity is complete. A project may be finished, but service-learning is a transformational process where young people, practitioners, and communities continue to grow as they discover the root causes underlying the needs.
Every part of the cycle is rich with learning and growth opportunities, many of them happening as young people are guided through the process of identifying, planning, and carrying out service activities. It's important for practitioners to recognize the learning potential in each phase of the process and get students reflecting so that real learning takes place.
With each step in a service-learning project, discussing three deceptively simple questions helps participants  understand what they've accomplished, learned, and need to do next:   1) What? What has happened? Take stock of what participants did, saw, and felt. Get their initial observations of what has happened;  2) So What? What's the importance of all this? Discuss what participants are thinking and feeling about the experience. Ask them what they've learned and how things have changed; and, 3) Now What? What should we do next? It's time to decide how best to channel this new understanding into continued action.

Through Service-Learning, we Connect Everyone With Compassion!

How do the Compassion Relays support and enhance Service-Learning?

  • The Relays offer a global platform for Service-Learning.  Via the Relays reporting and global mapping, teachers highlight and share students’ thoughts and actions generated through Service-Learning, expanding Service-Learning reach, impact, and networking.

  • The Relays provide students the fun and spirit of a global competition.   Just like the Olympic Games inspire athletes to train and do their best, the Compassion Relays and Games inspire the students to practice and strengthen compassionate Service-Learning.

  • The Relays engage students in an intentional, daily reflection focus and practice.  Teachers can use the Relays throughout the Service-Learning process or as a way to highlight specific aspects.  For example, for a 1-week (or longer) Relay, student’s may record daily their discovery of community needs, the steps of their data collection/analysis, their reflections on what they are doing/learning (new discoveries, impact, take-home messages, how they will translate what they learn into their own lives, etc.)

  • The Relays are a simple, adaptable tool to complement and support any and all of the many, diverse Service-Learning efforts.

  • The Relays themselves can used as Service-Learning to help students learn about active compassion.  For example, a school could have students do the Relays and students could gather student compassionate thoughts and actions, analyze, and report on them, looking for themes, identifying issues/needs, etc.  Students could compare age groups.  Students could engage community partners in the Relays as a project and analyze the process of community engagement and the results.  Students could do video projects to capture daily compassion in their lives.  Schools and teachers can find many creative ways to use the Relays to expand student awareness, practice, and study of compassion.

  • The Relays highlight the voice of student.  As a daily journal or diary, they help reveal the student’s personal discovery and reflection during the Service-Learning process.  They help students translate Service-Learning into their own thoughts and actions, bringing meaning, youth voice, diversity, and partnerships to life within each student.

  • The Relays offer teachers a simple way to demonstrate their own personal participation in Service-Learning, showing students how we all continue to learn throughout our lives.  The Relays promote teaching by example- teacher to student and student to student and student to teacher.

Invitation for Service-Learning Compassion Relays:

The Compassion Games and the Charter for Compassion International (CfCI) invite all schools, classes, and teachers and all youth groups and organizations to participate in Service-Learning Compassion Relays.  Join with other schools and youth groups carrying the Compassion Torch and help send it on its way around the world.  We welcome youth of all ages and all countries for the Relays!   

The Relays recognize and support your work!

We know that many teachers and youth mentors throughout the world have already instituted Service-Learning within their schools and youth groups and many have done it globally.  Whether you have Service-Learning in place, want to start, or want to add to what you are already doing, we would like you to join us in our mission to create compassion through friendly “coopetition” between classes, schools, youth groups, cities, etc.  Would you like to get your class, school or youth group more excited about what you are doing already?  Well friendly coopetition with compassion in mind could ignite your efforts.  Your Service-Learning can provide inspiration and a model for others who have nothing in place to-date.  Everyone is important for the Compassion Relays to be successful.  Let's go for the gold together.   

To be a Relays “MVP,” engage as many of the following as possible to participate in your Service-Learning Compassion Relays:

1.  Your students / youth group members
2.  Your teachers / youth group leaders
3.  Your Service-Learning partners, e.g. community organizations, etc.
And, participate in the Compassion Games September 11-21!
 To gain recognition, adults (teachers/youth group leaders) report on youth participation (see “Relays Instructions” and “Guidance Materials” below) and adults may also participate themselves.
Let your school/youth group shine with the light of many torches for compassion!  Be part of a global movement!  Together, we will rally people of all ages, in all cities and all countries, for the Relays as we herald the coming of The Compassion Games 11-day Gift Giving Festival 9/11 - 9/21.

Relays Instructions (for youth, teachers, staff, youth mentors)

1.  Take the Relays Torch.  The Torch represents your commitment to discover and record compassion in your everyday life (make it a Torch for compassionate Service Learning).
2.  Carry the Torch.  Note compassion (Service-Learning) daily for one week.  Make it real.  Bring compassion to life!  Each day for one week write down (or capture via artistic expression/photo/video) one thought or action that reflects on your Service-Learning activities.  Service-Learning can explore all 3 dimensions of compassion- caring for others, caring for self, and caring for the Earth.  Keep it simple!  It can be something you do, something you discover, or something you observe someone else do.  Have fun with your personal discovery!  Youth, teachers, staff, and youth group leaders may create 1-week journals and/or displays!

3.  Pass on the Torch.  Get others to join in your Service-Learning activities and the Relays.  Engage partners.  As a teacher, engage at least one other teacher or other partner.  As a youth group leader, engage at least one other person or youth group leader.  Youth may involve friends, family and mentors.  You may wish to share some of your youth’s daily Service-Learning Compassion Relays thoughts and acts via your website and invite partnerships.  Post on the Compassion Games International Facebook page and Twitter: @CompassionGames.  It’s easy to invite others.  Just give a personal message about the Relays along with the following link:  Be sure the torch continues and that at least one other person, class, youth group, and/or school commits to the Relays.
4.  Share/report.  At the end of the week (or daily if you wish), teachers/youth group leaders submit a brief comment/report to the Compassion Map.  Teachers/youth group leaders share some of their youth’s daily thoughts/acts of compassionate Service-Learning and briefly describe the week’s experience (what youth learned, impact, etc.).  Also, individual adults may report on their own personal one-week journey.  Be sure to indicate your school or youth group name and city when entering your report.

What if you are already fully engaged in Service-Learning activities?  How can the Relays support your current efforts?

Any project or activity and the associated Service-Learning that engage youth in acts of kindness, gratitude, caring for others, self, or the Earth can fit perfectly with the Relays.  Examples of such projects: sending letters of comfort to people who are sick, helping raise money to provide books to another school or library, running a race to help raise money to help others, giving food to a food pantry to help those in need, planting trees or a garden, learning about the effects of recycling,  joining in local and global celebrations of compassion, peace and health, reading and discussing a book that illustrates the values of compassion, etc.  

If you are already doing a Service-Learning project or activity, the Relays can help youth take the message home so it lives on in their own lives.  Youth can just take a few minutes in the day to write/draw about their Service-Learning experience.  This would be their act of compassion for the day for the Relays.  Youth could be asked to describe what they felt/learned during the project activity that day, describe what they will do differently in their daily life as a result of the project activities, provide an example of how they are applying what they have learned, describe what they think the impact of the project is on others, etc.

Logistics for Classrooms and Youth Groups
Taking the Torch.  Youth “take the Torch” the minute you and your class or group decide to enter the Relays.  As an option, you may highlight the start of the Relays by having youth create a symbol of the Torch and place it in your classroom or bring it to the place where your youth group meets.  You may want to announce the Relays via a bulletin board, website, newsletter, etc.  

  • Examples of symbols of the Torch
A drawing or picture of a Torch (you can use the Relays logo), a hand-made Torch, a banner, a bulletin board, etc.  
Carrying the Torch.  Youth “carry the Torch” by noting each day for at least one week their Service-Learning thoughts and acts for compassion.

  • Each day for 1 week, set a regular time and place for youth to write/draw, etc. about their Service-Learning activities (can be any time- when they arrive, at a break time, computer time, etc.)
  • Have materials for writing/drawing available (pencils, pens, crayons, paper, computer, mural paper, chalkboard, journals, computer, etc.)
  • Honor/encourage the youth’s daily acts and celebrate at the end of the week or at the end of the Service-Learning process.
  • Passing on the Torch.  Youth, teachers, and youth leaders “pass on the Torch” when they invite others to enter the Relays.  Just give a personal message about the Relays along with the following link:

  • Examples of simple ways to pass the Torch:
Hand-to-hand:  youth can simply go talk to another youth or class and invite them to do the Relays or youth may want to create and pass on a symbol of the Torch (a hand-made torch, drawing or picture, the Relays logo image, banner, flag, badge, special symbolic gift, etc.)
Mail: youth can send a letter, postcard, email invitation.
Social media:  Teachers, school administrators, and adult youth group leaders may invite others to participate via social media, e.g. posting the Relays logo along with a personal invitation and the link to the Relays:

Sharing/reporting.   At the end of the week (or daily if you wish), submit a brief comment/report to the Compassion Map.  Share some of the youth’s daily thoughts/acts of compassionate Service-Learning and briefly describe the week’s experience (what youth learned, impact, etc.).  Also, you may report on your own, personal one-week journey.  Be sure to indicate your school or youth group name and city when entering your report.  In addition, you may want to highlight and share your Compassion Relays experience via your website, newsletter, social media, and other communications.

Orientation for Youth

1. Talk about the definition of compassion.  Briefly emphasize the importance of the 3 dimensions of compassion (compassion in caring for others, caring for self, and caring for the Earth).  Discuss how Service-Learning helps us practice compassion.  Explain that the Compassion Relays are like a Service-Learning game or exercise that helps us practice and grow stronger in compassion (just like practicing reading, music, or a sport);
2.  Share some examples of simple daily Service-Learning thoughts and acts of compassion.   Relate the examples to your Service-Learning efforts.  You may want to pose questions to students for them to answer each day:  what is a service need in our school? in our community?  what can we do to help?  what are some things you did today to help others and how can we apply those things to help our community?  what did you learn in our Service-Learning activities?  what impact do you think we are having?  how is Service-Learning changing your life, the lives of your classmates, the lives of others?
3.  Describe how the Compassion Relays work:  what youth will do, when it starts and ends, and what happens at the end (e.g. celebration/award).   Provide a simple handout for youth to give their parents .