As a public sector employee, you’re likely no stranger to the fact that government is a complicated industry. But most people are not aware of what local government truly entails. Municipalities like the City of Toronto are trying to bridge that gap by offering curriculum-based programs for elementary and high school students.
Your municipality can help by reaching out to students early and often. These ideas, coupled with student giveaways, can help educate young people about all the things their government does.
- First responders: Your community’s emergency medical technicians (EMTs), firefighters and law enforcement officers have a lot to offer when it comes to safety education. Set up a booth at a public safety expo and discuss car seat guidelines, stranger danger or basic first aid. Offer tours of your local police or fire stations. Or visit area schools to educate students on how police officers, firefighters and EMTs help keep people safe in an emergency. Colouring books or badge stickers are great student giveaway ideas to reinforce your public safety messages.
- Parks department: Many young people are likely familiar with their local parks. Yet they may not know the parks and recreation department is connected to government. Engage them by making them part of your planning process. Invite students to share their ideas, drawings and designs for any new parks or projects. Also ask for their thoughts on improving existing parks. Flying disks or boomerangs make great prizes for those who share their suggestions.
- Public health: Schools are great places to promote wellness, proper nutrition and fitness. Offer an after-school exercise class at your local recreation department or during the school’s after-care program. Choose something unique like Tai Chi or water aerobics to pique interest. Student assemblies are another great place to share your message. Arrange to speak on topics like proper nutrition or hygiene. Offer prizes for participation, like a sports bottle or hand sanitizer.
- Sanitation: Teach students about how they can reduce waste. Hold a school- or city-wide recycling challenge. Divide into teams—teachers versus students, upperclassmen versus lower classmen or elementary school versus junior high. The team that collects the most recyclable items gets a notebook set and bragging rights. Or hold an upcycling contest where participants can create something unusual out of trash. Feature winning pieces of art throughout city buildings.
There’s a lot to be said about government and its many different functions. Use these ideas, plus student giveaways, to educate young learners on the many different aspects of your community’s public sector.