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Public Statements

Global Youth

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I rise to speak about a resolution designating April 24 through 26, 2009, as Global Youth Service Days. S. Res. 105 recognizes and commends the significant community service efforts that youth are making in communities across the country and around the world on the last weekend in April and every day. This resolution also encourages the citizens of the United States to acknowledge and support these volunteer efforts. S. Res. 105 passed the Senate by unanimous consent on April 20, 2009. This sends a very strong message of support to the thousands of youth across our great Nation who are contributing positively to their communities your efforts are recognized and appreciated.

Over the weekend, beginning this Friday, April 24, youth from across the United States and around the world will carry out community service projects in areas ranging from hunger to literacy to the environment. Through this service, many will embark on a lifelong path of service and civic engagement in more than 100 countries around the world.

This event is not isolated to one weekend a year. Global Youth Service Days is an annual public awareness and education campaign that highlights the valuable contributions that young people make to their communities throughout the year.

The participation of youth in community service is not just a nice idea for a way to spend a Saturday afternoon. All year long, young people across America, indeed across the globe identify and address the needs of their communities through community service and service-learning opportunities. They make positive differences in the world around them, learn leadership and organizational skills, and gain insights into the problems of their fellow citizens.

Youth who are engaged in volunteer service and service-learning activities do better in school than their classmates who do not volunteer because they see a direct connection to what they are learning and the real world in which they live. Youth who engage in volunteering and other positive activities are also more likely to avoid risky behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use, crime, and promiscuity. Service within the community also contributes positively to young people's character development, civic participation, and philanthropic activity as adults.

A survey by Civic Enterprises found that 47 percent of high school dropouts reported that boredom in school was a primary reason why they dropped out. High quality service-learning activities can, however, help young people make important connections between the curriculum and the challenges they see in their communities.

It is important, therefore, that the Senate encourage youth to engage in community service and to congratulate them for the service they provide.

In an effort to recognize and support youth volunteers in my State, I am proud to acknowledge some of the activities that will occur this year in Alaska in observance of National and Global Youth Service Days:

Anchorage's Promise, which works to mobilize all sectors of the community to build the character and competence of Anchorage's children and youth, has sponsored the annual Kids' Day 3-day events in Anchorage again this year. Youth provided significant service to their peers and to adults who attended Kids' Day activities last weekend:

Students educated the public on the 5 Promises: Caring Adults, Safe Places, Healthy Start and Future, Marketable Skills, and Opportunities to Serve.

Students from King Career Center served as volunteer safety patrols.

Teens served as greeters and passed out bags, helped vendors set up their booths, and cleaned up during and after the event.

Junior ROTC members provided security and helped with parking.

Teens assisted Anchorage's Promise Board members with tours and Opening Ceremony activities.

Three teens assisted the Kids in Nature Workshop for Parents and Caregivers instructor.

One youth volunteer assisted staff at the Alaska Natural History Museum.

Youth created cards to express support for our troops.

In addition to the Kids' Day events, young people from every region of Alaska will serve their communities in the following ways:

Youth volunteers, coordinated by Covenant House, will bring attention to the importance of conservation, recycling, and educate youth about Earth Day.

Various youth service projects will be performed by Juneau youth at local nonprofits.

Members of the Eagle River Boys & Girls Club provided ``kid power'' to fill 3000 Easter eggs.

The Eielson Air Force Base Youth Programs' Inside & Out Club will clean to make it shine as much as the kids do.

Youth volunteers, coordinated by the Anchorage Public Library, will help organize summer reading celebration materials.

Youth at Chugiak High School have produced and will show a docudrama that simulates a drunk driving collision and help educate their peers about the dangers of drunk driving.

Students at Steller Secondary School will provide the Covenant House residents with gift bags containing personal hygiene products.

Alaska Youth and Family Network volunteers will promote personal responsibility for wellness that focuses on youth with behavioral health problems.

Spirit of Youth volunteers from all across Alaska, including Thorne Bay, Ketchikan, Eagle River, Kodiak, Anchorage, Palmer, Juneau, Cantwell, Kasaan, Nenana, Nome, Shageluk, Cordova, Palmer, and Chugiak, will work with their peers and adults on projects as varied as sharing their artistic talents; organizing a potato feed fundraiser to help the local library; running a girls' study group; offering free babysitting, teaching Sunday school, and helping the elderly at the local hospital; raising money for youth activities and easing community tensions; improving the collective well-being of youth; including people with disabilities in social activities; teaching cheerleading and dance skills; coordinating canned food drives; honoring Haida culture through art and music; working with Native elders to retain Alaska Native boat making skills; responding to emergencies; restoring salmon habitat; learning about climate change and fire science; owning, operating, and crewing a seine fishing boat; giving teens a forum to discuss political issues; educating others about child labor; helping other youth to succeed in realizing their dreams; helping students with disabilities excel in physical education; and educating the public about domestic violence while advocating for justice and change.

The Alaska Teen Media Institute will provide teens with the tools and training needed to produce their own stories told in their own voices to be shared through a variety of media.

Members of the Mountain View Boys & Girls Club will kick off Mountain View Cleanup Day.

Members of Alaska Youth Environmental Action attended the Civics and Conservation Summit in Juneau where they met with legislators to talk about issues they care about in their communities, including the Renewable Energy Campaign.

The Anchorage Youth Parent Foundation Peer Outreach Workers will spread awareness of sexual assault in April by hosting an Art Competition at the POWER Teen Clinic.

Mr. President, I am so proud of all of these young people. I value their idealism, energy, creativity, and unique perspectives as they volunteer to make their communities better and assist those in need.

Many similarly wonderful activities will be taking place all across the Nation. I encourage all of my colleagues to visit the Youth Service America Web find out about the selfless and creative youth who are contributing in their own States this year.

I thank my colleagues Senators AKAKA, BAYH, BEGICH, BINGAMAN, BROWN, BURR, CARDIN, COCHRAN, COLLINS, CORNYN, DODD, DURBIN, FEINGOLD, FEINSTEIN, GILLIBRAND, GREGG, HAGAN, HATCH, INOUYE, JOHNSON, KENNEDY, KLOBUCHAR, LANDRIEU, LAUTENBERG, LEVIN, LIEBERMAN, LINCOLN, MARTINEZ, MENENDEZ, MIKULSKI, MURRAY, BEN NELSON, BILL NELSON, SPECTER, and WHITEHOUSE for standing with me as original cosponsors of this worthwhile legislation, which will ensure that youth across the country and the world know that all of their hard work is greatly appreciated.

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