Badges, Activities, & Beyond, Volunteer Experience, Volunteers

Stepping Up Your Take Action Project with Community Mapping!

There are 5 important steps in any Take Action project. Not sure what they are? They’re actually the Five Stages of Service Learning: inventory and investigation, preparation and planning, action, reflection and demonstration! Like every great journey (and project), that first step is frequently the hardest part. After all, there are so many needs in the community that narrowing it down to one community issue can be daunting. So how do you start investigating? Try making a community map with your troop.

What’s a community map? A community map is a drawing or a list that shows the community’s needs and resources, including contacts that might help the girls when working on a Take Action project. Here’s how to make one: have girls draw a picture of their community. Include resources such as the library, animal shelters, parks department, and more. Don’t forget to include parents, friends, and the girls themselves under resources. If your group is having a hard time visualizing their community take a walk around your neighborhood to get ideas.

Next have the girls think about issues or problems in their community. You can have girls ask their parents, check the local newspaper, and watch the news for ideas and bring them to the next meeting.The problems girls find may be small or large. Some examples may include: an old unsafe playground at the local park, many stray cats that don’t have a home, nothing for teens to do on the weekend, bullies at school, etc.

Use the map to choose a project issue based on the girls’ interests and abilities. Research the issue using a variety of sources like interviewing people, reading books and articles, finding professional and community organizations online and in the community involved in this issue. Create an in-depth profile of the issue, underlying factors that contribute to it, and how the organizations/individuals in the community are currently working to impact the problem. You can even create a community asset map just for that issue. Check out this example of a map created by the Early Childhood Research & Practice Journal showing possible assets to address early literacy and school readiness:

Example Community Map-early Literary and School Readiness

Feeling ready for step 2? Tune in next week for tips on the next step: preparation and planning.