From the Heart

4-H’ers celebrating a National Day of Service in January.

4-H’ers celebrating a National Day of Service in January.

February has long been associated with heart related events.  Of course, there is Valentine’s Day, a day of love.  Additionally, the full month is devoted to a focus on heart health.  Continuing on this heart related theme, I want to focus on generosity.  Generosity is one of the four essential elements for youth development.  It is valuing others and serving them. Sincere generosity involves the heart and is usually demonstrated with the use of the hands.  Incidentally, these are two of the four H’s of the 4-H Youth Development program.

As 4-H volunteers we strive to teach youth to be generous.  Service is a good way for youth to learn generosity.  By providing opportunities to connect with their communities through service, we help youth develop generosity and find meaning and value in their lives.  This can be accomplished by helping youth realize the full impact of their efforts.

Often, through asking questions we can help youth see the big picture.  Asking questions can cause them to see what is beyond the immediate actions of service such as getting out of bed early and giving up some time to rake leaves.  Helping them see it’s more than just logging service hours for school, awards or scholarships may help them get to the heart of the service they’ve performed.

Questions you may ask prior to the event to help youth recognize the service they are performing are:  What do you expect to happen at the site?  How do you think the people will feel about us helping them today?  Why do you think this is a need? Post event questions can be just as thought provoking.  Some examples are:  What would have happened if no one had come out to do what we did today?  What did you learn about yourself today? How did serving make you feel?  What else can we do to serve others in our community?

Don’t limit yourself to these questions though, these are just some ideas.  The whole idea is to generate conversation and give youth those “aha” moments and help them see the difference they can make through practicing generosity.  (You too may experience a few “aha” moments as well!) 

Contact your local 4-H agent for more information on the Four Essential Elements of Positive Youth Development.