This year, Da Vinci Waldorf School sixth- through eighth-graders were involved in numerous service projects. They volunteered with Citizens for Conservation, based in Barrington; Walk on Farm in Barrington, which provides equine assisted therapy; and at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center—the veteran’s hospital in North Chicago.
“It’s very important for adolescents to feel a purpose, a place in the world—that they’re not just receiving from the world,” said eighth-grade teacher Kathy Matlin.
The students removed buckthorn at Flint Creek Savanna South for Citizens for Conservation.
The students service project at Walk on Farm involved cleaning horse stalls and grooming horses that are used in equine assisted therapy.
At the VA hospital, students spent time with veterans, playing games and listening to their stories.
“What they are really doing is providing space for veterans to tell their stories. A lot of veterans don’t have visitors and are forgotten. They tell their stories and establish a connection with the children; children can see the older side of life. We often put older people away and their untapped wisdom, their knowledge gets lost,” Matlin said.
The variety of service projects allows students with different interests to connect to giving.
“Some kids are great with older people; some like conservation; for some, animals is their way of service. You never know what’s going to be the thing that touches somebody,” Matlin said.
Last spring, Da Vinci Waldorf seventh- and eighth-grade students went on a service project to Appalachia. Through Project HELP, they performed minor home repairs and maintenance for people living in poverty. This spring, sixth through eighth-grade students performed a service project at a Lakota reservation in South Dakota.
Students prepared a garden for the Lakota Waldorf School, helped make a tipi and made a bench at the school.
“The service projects allow students to feel valued and necessary as they make way to becoming young men and women,” Matlin said.