School’s out, and summer fun is in – and so is civic learning and engagement! Our Youth Civic Leadership programs have been out and about in June, with our school-based Community Learning Centers embedding civic learning around a host of seasonal activities.
Recently, Lincoln Northeast students
commemorated Juneteenth by watching Amend: The Fight For America, a powerful docuseries about the legacy of the Fourteenth Amendment, the history of discrimination in the United States, and continued activism for equality. Later, they knocked down a few pins at a local bowling alley for good measure.
At Lincoln High, summer has meant a host of outdoor activities including skate club and soccer, plus a trip to the Nebraska State Capitol to learn about our state’s unique form of government. Along with their Northeast friends, Links had a great time exploring the Capitol, had an opportunity to talk to State Sen. Danielle Conrad, and met with Nebraska Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Papik. The students ended their Capitol Experience Day by writing letters to senators about issues that matter to them.
In Omaha, Sherman and Lothrop elementary students have been busy with outings both fun and educational. Our Sharks and Panthers have joined together for fun water activities, African culture drumming, hands-on STEM projects with LIIT Ladies In It, plus Save the Earth Day with Spark Positivity. On top of all that, students learned about Juneteenth and the history behind the holiday. We love to see our youngest students so engaged!
At Lewis & Clark Middle School, our Trailblazers Summer Program recently visited the Towers of Tomorrow with Lego Bricks exhibition at the Durham Museum, then explored downtown Omaha. In the meantime, they volunteered at the Open Door Mission Timberlake Outreach Center. Students learned the value of serving others in the community, and are already planning on a return date for more volunteering.
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Sometimes we’re asked what after-school and outside-of-school programs have to do with democracy. Our answer: Everything. “We, the people” means our youngest Americans, too. Civic Nebraska is the lead agency for six before- and after-school programs and even more outside-of-school service-learning clubs in Lincoln, Omaha, and Greater Nebraska. We introduce students to civic engagement early on, which helps them better develop critical thinking, civic leadership, and civil discourse skills.
Those are the basic building blocks of democratic citizenship. Engaged, informed citizens must be able to evaluate situations and act for positive change. Students who can think critically about, and make meaning of, societal issues are better able to navigate their individual environments – and succeed in them.