Posted by Andrew Ko
Senior Director of U.S. Partners in Learning, Microsoft

Starting tomorrow, we celebrate the 23rd annual Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), which runs from April 15 to April 17. GYSD is the largest service day in the world and the only one solely dedicated to children. More than a million youth in all 50 states and in more than 100 countries will actively make a difference in their community this weekend.

InterroBang is a Microsoft U.S. Partners in Learning socially-networked, service-learning game built in partnership with Nuvana, the Corporation for National and Community Service, Youth Service America and ePals. Since November 2010, more than 20,000 students in over 72 countries have submitted thousands of completed missions (known as deeds) that show how they have helped their local communities while also learning valuable educational lessons about history, the environment, world culture and more. It is inspiring to see how InterroBang has proven to be a valuable tool for both students and teachers to integrate meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to renew students’ sense for civic responsibility.

This week, InterroBang features special service “missions” designed for students and educators to participate in Global Youth Service Day. We have already seen a handful of GYSD missions completed that are impacting communities. For example, one student helped educate their community on the hazards of water pollution and ways to keep the local community water clean. Another InterroBang team evaluated what was being thrown into the trash and created a recycling and composting system. While making a difference in their community, the students also learn practical lessons about the science.

These examples speak to how service-learning can help students see the connection between learning and real life. It harnesses what they are passionate about while also teaching them to develop important skills such as problem solving, collaboration, communications and creative thinking. These skills will help them succeed in their adult lives and allow them to see how they can impact the world. 

We receive direct feedback from parents on how service-learning games like InterroBang impact their children. Holly Chapple, mom of Hannah, a senior at Loudoun County high school in Ashburn, Va. who has completed several InterroBang missions, recently shared the following with us:

“InterroBang was exactly what Hannah needed to find wings. It created a spark in her that wasn’t there before, and helped her reach to new heights, personally challenge herself and see that if she put her heart into something that she would be rewarded tenfold.”

Global Youth Service Day has inspired youth since 1988. In that time, 20 million youth projects have been supported by $10 million in grants. The passion to make a difference in the world displayed by these young students is infectious. Let’s get involved!

For more information about Global Youth Service Day and InterroBang’s efforts, please visit www.ysa.org. Sign Up to play InterroBang at www.playinterrobang.com .