Semester of Service: an empowerME challenge!

Blog for The Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Note: Youth Service America is one of the Alliance’s key partners in spreading the empowerME Movement. This article served to align empowerME programming with a key YSA initiative in order to strengthen our partnership with the organization and its members.

Semester of Service: an empowerME challenge!

 empowerME leaders across the country are taking on Youth Service America‘s challenge by dedicating a “Semester of Service” (or 70+ volunteer hours) to combating childhood obesity and improving youth health.

What is a Semester of Service? 
A Semester of Service is a commitment to a service project that will launch with an event on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and end with another event on Global Youth Service Day. Youth leaders will spend the “semester” addressing a meaningful community need connected to intentional learning goals and/or academic standards.

By providing grants, curriculum guides, training, and technical assistance, the YSA helps educators to lead effective service-learning programs. Check out their site to register your events and get helpful resources.

Why do the service holidays matter?

You’ve heard us say it, but we’ll say it again: TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER. By uniting our efforts on these two days, we take something big and make it bigger. When we get the attention of the media, they help get our message out there even further. THAT’S what youth voice is all about!

Below are our suggestions for using empowerME programs to support your Semester of Service.

Youth-Hosted Forums
This playbook assists in the planning and implementation of a public forum on healthy living and solving the obesity epidemic. Students lead the discussion, with a student panel there to answer questions from the guide and the audience. Key players are invited to the forum, including school administrators, local officials, and the press.
A Youth-Hosted Forum is a great way to participate in MLK, Jr Day of Service. Use this event to get your community interested in stopping the childhood obesity epidemic and to recruit volunteers to help you rally for healthy changes in your school with empowerME@school, teach local elementary school students about healthy living after school with empowerME4Life, start a school or community garden, hold a healthy food drive, or otherwise make a positive impact on the health of young people in your community.

Alternatively, hold a Youth-Hosted Forum on Global Youth Service Day, at the end of your service project as a way to showcase what you’ve learned, celebrate your accomplishments, and remind everyone that there’s still work to be done!

This health curriculum is designed to be taught by high school students to elementary school students in an after-school setting. It consists of eight 45 minute sessions, grounded in National Health Education Standards and the American Heart Association’s recommendations and expertise in promoting heart-healthy lifestyles.

You might hold a session of empowerME4Life once a week for eight weeks (or twice a week for four weeks, or whatever works for you…), either kicking it off on MLK, Jr Day of Service or ending on Global Youth Service Day.

This 4-step toolkit will help guide you and your peers as you work to lead healthy changes in your school.

A Youth-Hosted Forum is a great way to raise awareness of the health issues young people face, making it a perfect lead-in to actually making those changes using empowerME@school. And then celebrate your success with a fun event that gets people moving and making a difference on Global Youth Service Day!
If you decide to take on this challenge, shoot us an email at and we’ll do everything we can to help promote and make your project a success!


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