Illustration by Al Murphy

STANDARDS

Common Core: RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.2, RI.6-8.4, RI.6-8.7, SL.6-8.1, SL.6-8.2, WHST.6-8.2, WHST.6-8.4, WHST.6-8.7

C3 (D2/6-8): Civ.1, Civ.7, Civ.10

NCSS: Civic ideals and practices; Individual development and identity; Culture

CIVICS NOW

You Can Make a Difference!

Want to help make your community—or the world—a better place? There are tons of ways to get involved, no matter what you’re passionate about. Here’s how.  

So You Want to . . . Help Your Community

Sometimes the best way to make a big impact is to start small—by taking action in your own neighborhood. Not sure where to begin? Consider what you’re good at or what you enjoy doing (playing sports? cuddling puppies? making dinner for your family?). Then use this guide to find your perfect activity.

Animals
Ask a local animal shelter how you can assist them. Some will let you bottle-feed newborn kittens or play with puppies.

Sports
Organize a kickball game or soccer tournament to help raise money for a local, national, or global cause.

Cooking
Gather some of your friends and family members to prepare meals at a nearby soup kitchen. 

Reading
Share your love of books by volunteering to read your favorite stories to kids at a local library.

Technology  
Offer to hold a workshop at a senior center to teach older people in your community how to use social media.

Illustrations by Al Murphy

So You Want to . . . Stage a Demonstration

Do you get excited by the idea of marching for a cause? Want to shout your opinions from a megaphone? Then organizing an event may be just the thing for you. No matter what cause you care about, you can use these steps to fight for action. 

• Team Up Gather a group of people, including friends, relatives, and classmates, who want to stand up for the same issue you do. After all, multiple voices are always louder than one. Then determine everyone’s strengths and figure out how each person can best contribute to the event. Maybe you would be good at public speaking, but your friend would be better at managing details, such as when and where everyone should meet. This will help get things done faster.

• Educate Yourself Research everything you can about your cause. If you know the facts, you’ll be able to speak intelligently and confidently—and be more likely to convince people of your point of view. Get information from credible sources, such as universities, government agencies, or junior.scholastic.com. Look for websites ending in .edu or .gov. 

• Take Action Organize a creative yet peaceful demonstration—such as a sit-in, a march, or a protest at your local city hall. Posting on social media is another effective way to spread your group’s message. If you receive negative comments online, don’t get discouraged or argue back. Instead, reply with a link to a reputable website that backs up your point. And remember, big changes don’t happen overnight. Don’t let that stop you from trying to reach your goal. 

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

GIVING BACK: Planting a community garden is a good way to help your neighborhood this summer.

So You Want to . . . Join a Movement

Want to be part of a major nationwide organization? These teen-focused groups are always looking for new members. 

Rock the Vote
You may not be old enough to vote in next year’s presidential election, but you can still have an impact. One way is to volunteer to register potential voters with Rock the Vote—a nonpartisan organization that aims to get young people involved in the political process. 
Learn more: rockthevote.org

Zero Hour
Members of this national group, which is focused on demanding action on climate change, have organized marches, written letters to elected officials, and even staged a protest on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The group was created in 2017 by 16-year-old Jamie Margolin of Seattle.  
Learn more: thisiszerohour.org

March for Our Lives
This group, founded in 2018 in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is fighting for safer schools—and streets. Its participants are calling for stricter gun laws and more federal funding to reduce gun violence nationwide.   
Learn more: marchforourlives.com

Illustrations by Al Murphy

3 Things You Can Do in Less Than 30 Minutes

We get it, you’re busy! So here are three easy things you can do to make a difference in under half an hour.

1. Donate clothes, shoes, or accessories
Collect items you no longer want (but that are still in decent condition) and take them to a local Goodwill. You could also arrange for the items to be picked up right from your doorstep by a charity like the Vietnam Veterans of America. Visit pickupplease.org for info.

2. Tweet at members of Congress
Is there a policy issue you feel strongly about? Let your representatives know! Go to house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative to identify the representative for your district. Then send him or her a tweet.

3. Commit to a new habit (or three!)
Pledge to reduce your carbon footprint by taking shorter showers (5 minutes or less), hanging your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer, or having vegetarian meals one day a week.  

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