Teens can get informed and involved

August 27, 2010|By LISA PREJEAN

Young people are increasingly encouraged to become involved in their communities, to perform acts of service, to take on projects and to take a stand on issues of local importance.

"How many hours of community service do you have?" is frequently a question on scholarship and college applications. Organizations realize that an involved person is an informed person, and an informed person is a person who can make a difference.

People who can make a difference are viewed as successful, so those are typically the ones who earn scholarships and admittance to the colleges of their choice.

While most college-bound students have what it takes to be successful, they need to be able to convince others of that fact.


This can be accomplished in many ways, but perhaps the most effective way is through taking a stand on an issue that is important to the teen. After some basic research about how the issue is perceived on the local level, the teen should ask himself:

  • When considering this issue, what do I feel strongly about?

  • What do I think needs to be changed?

  • Is there something I could do or others could do to make a difference?

    After considering these aspects of the issue, the teen should write an editorial. Even if the editorial is not submitted for publication, the writing of it accomplishes many things:

  • The editorial will help the teen organize thoughts.

  • It will help the teen decide how to become involved in the issue.

  • It might lead the teen in another direction. After attempting an editorial, the teen might decide to select another issue, and that's OK. These steps can be repeated until the right fit is found.

    Once a teen decides on an issue, the editorial writing can begin:

  • First, the teen needs to decide what point to make. What is his or her opinion?

  • Then the teen needs to find support or reasons for that opinion.

  • If a problem is presented, the teen should propose a solution to the problem.

    Before the writing process begins, the teen needs to decide who the audience is. Determining this ahead of time will help the teen maintain a focus throughout.

    Prior to writing, the teen needs to organize the facts and information, keeping in mind that strong arguments need to be made at the beginning and end of an editorial.

    Once those steps are accomplished, the writing can begin. The teen writer should:

  • Make the beginning something the reader will remember.

  • Present the problem clearly.

  • Include details that are interesting to the target audience.

  • Not be arrogant or unkind. Be gracious when considering the opinions of others.

  • Restate the beginning at the end. Don't introduce new material in the conclusion.

    After the editorial is written, the revising work begins. A teen should:

  • Read the article aloud to hear how it sounds.

  • Make sure the facts support the statements used.

  • Eliminate unnecessary words.

  • Check for errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation.

    The final product can be:

  • Submitted to a local newspaper or school newspaper.

  • Shared with family and friends.

  • Posted on the Web.

  • Or, simply used as a springboard for action:

    How can I get involved and make a difference in my community?

    Some of the ideas listed in this column are from a chapter on editorial writing in "Writing and Grammar 10," published by BJU Press.

    Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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