The National Service Ride’s main platform consists of local public events that any community can organize. Veterans of many kinds come to schools on their motorcycles to set off interactive sessions to help local youth understand the meaning and value of service, and how people best help themselves by helping others. Then service organizations show them the many pathways to service learning.
The project created and refined this platform at a number of proof-of-concept events in 2016. Adaptable and flexible to the needs and capacities of all involved, these events are either stand-alone events or part of related school or community initiatives.
They connect schools, motorcycle clubs, and service organizations, extending their own platforms and initiatives and reaching youth in a way none could do alone. Schools benefit from a scalable platform to encourage and enable service learning – the educational outcomes being a better cohort of citizens and better-qualified sources of labor. Local communities can strengthen to combat many costly social problems through generational partnering in a bottom-up process of change and empowerment. And veterans can impact their communities in a more direct and meaningful way.
These normally hour-long events involve:
- Opening up with: a veteran-led “mindful moment of gratitude” to honor the fallen by giving them “a country worth their sacrifice;” thanking military, police, fire, first responders, public educators, etc. for their service; and, talking about “what is service?” and its benefits through personal testimony.
- Student-led storytelling on what some are already getting out of community service and a broader discussion of what others want to or can do.
- Service organization review of available community, public, and national service learning opportunities.
- Student-faculty identification of “next steps” to greater service learning in the community.