“Anyone can make a difference, so you don’t have to have it be some huge, global campaign… you can start small, and that’s just as important”. Blake Mycoskie
Have you ever aspired to coordinate or felt inclined to become part of a program that helped improve the lives of others? In an article published by PermanentCultureNow.com, activism is described as “quite simply taking action to effect social change; this can occur in a myriad of ways and in a variety of forms.” I singled out the PermanentCultureNow.com definition of activism because it allows a person to remain open-minded regarding their ability to contribute toward a cause they desire to support.
Unfortunately, many people stay away from activism due to some of the false perceptions created around this word: that only a prosperous person can influence change; that activism only involves religion or politics or the environment; or even that you can only support issues on a national level. But the fact is, you can affect the lives of others in a variety of ways. Every helping hand does not require a global campaign to have a positive impact on the lives of others. Additionally, activism should not be restricted to subjects centered around altercations or controversy. As someone who has traveled and participated in numerous community projects overseas, I have come to understand activism as the actions of a person who envisions a better way of life for others, without compensation and being willing to perform the smallest of deeds.
With this in mind, let’s examine some ways in which each of us may contribute to our community.
Resources for Education
Before the first day of school, most educational facilities publish a list on their website of items kids will need during class. For instance, paper, pencils, and rulers are some of the common items on the list. There are parents each year who struggle to procure these materials for their children. As a concerned parent and member of the community, you can coordinate with other parents to help needy parents obtain these items for their kids. As a matter of fact, schools and teachers will appreciate the support of the local community. Developing a relationship with teachers will help you to determine how many students need school supplies. There is nothing more embarrassing than arriving in class on the first day of school and having to borrow a pen/paper. From my own experience, it was not a pleasant feeling at all. People can also use this same strategy for students interested in sports, wishing to join an extra-curricular activity or in need of graduation supplies. The cost of extra-curricular activities is increasing each year at an alarming rate. At some point, we as a community must work together to find a way to offer our youth the opportunity to participate in activities that prevent them from seeking validation on the streets.
Do you care about the elderly?
When it comes to history and wisdom, look no further than our elderly neighbors. Sadly, many older adults are left to care for themselves, for a variety of reasons. On the other hand, you could step in and assist them with a task such as lawn care, taking out the trash, taking your pet for a visit (people friendly pets of course) or occasionally running errands for them. Every year we are faced with the heart-breaking story of an older adult being found dead in their home. We will all face death at some point, but the part of the story that leaves me despondent is finding out they were deceased in the house for several days, and no one knew. Activism does not always involve money, sometimes just a few moments of your time could make all the difference. Interacting with the elderly may also evoke an appreciation of the true value of life, in yourself and the youth of the community.
A Youth Center, Park or more Emergency Agencies
If you enjoy city council meetings or interacting with politicians, then community development may be the place for you. Anyone who elects to represent their community actively must be prepared to attend lengthy discussions, as well as meet with councilors to discuss the needs of the community.
Most council members are not acquainted with the needs of the people within the community. Information such as crime and business development are primarily brought to their attention by other officials. Having someone who is well respected within the district providing feedback to the local city officials may help secure much needed facilities for the neighborhood such as parks, youth centers or additional police coverage. A person taking on this role should be friendly, patient and able to communicate in a calm, clear and concise manner. Above all, you can make a real difference in the life of the people you interact with daily.
A person’s desire for activism is not determined by wealth, fame or their status. It is based on someone understanding where they can make a difference, and actively taking steps to start the process. Some people are under the impression they can only institute change if they work on a national platform. Remember, your objective is not to achieve notoriety for yourself, but to create awareness so others will join in to help support a worthy cause.
So, what have you wanted to do that could have a positive impact on the lives of others? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.