In the mid nineteen-eighties, a group of recent college graduates decided to challenge the negative sterotypes that society had about young people, and young people had about themselves. In an effort to relaunch a student movement based on community service, a handful of us - a motley group for sure - launched COOL, The Campus Outreach Opportunity League.
One of the activities to come out of that whirlwind was the idea of a national day of service that would highlight the ways in which young people were serving in their communities. In 1988, the first National Youth Service Day was launched as a partnership between COOL, Service America, and dozens of other national and local organizations. Since that time, Youth Service America (http://ysa.org/), under the leadership of it long time yet still youthful President, Steve Culbertson, has turned the event into a movement.
Today, the event is known as Global Youth Service Day (http://www.GYSD.org/). Last week, the 28th Global Youth Service Day took place, involving millions of young people in over 100 countries on six continents, making it the largest service event in the world. Youth Service America has turned what was an event into a movement.
The First National Youth Service Day was launched with a poem, entitled, "A Call to All." In recognition of Global Youth Service Day, Service America and the millions of young people who served this year and for the past twenty-eight years, here goes. The charge is as relevant now as it ever was, and youth leadership is more important than ever.
A Call to All
Wake up, Wake Up
There calling reveille
And it's calling you and me
Idealism is the nature of youth
It isn't no lie, I speak the truth
One by one, each of us can
Help a neighbor, lend a hand.
We'll work together, to end all war
I'll serve my country, by helping the poor
So let freedom, ring,
And keep hope alive
When youth is leading,
Our dreams will thrive.
We are the leaders
Only if we wait
We won't wait
Global Youth Service day is dedicated to the contributions that young people make 365-days of the year. So many of today's youth live into the words of George Bernard Shaw that were spoken by Robert Kennedy when he said "Some see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not." Or, in the words of Prince, "A strong spirit transcends rules"