Do you have a teen who loves to write or scrapbook? There is a service project your teens can do that will make an unbelievable difference in many lives. All they real need is a heart for people and either a willingness to write or enough artistic ability to craft a scrapbook or book.
When my grandfather started to get really old (he lived well into his 90’s), I asked him to write down his memories. After he jotted them down, I edited them into a coherent story and combined them with old photos. I took the results and had them made into a book by one of the many sites that produces photo books.
Fast forward a few years and my grandfather was in the fog of diabetic dementia. Whenever he was tempted to leave home, one of the few things he always grabbed was the book he had written. Coming from a background in foster care, those memories helped him put together the past in a more cohesive form than he could on his own. I think it also gave him a feeling of self worth that was missing because of his fractured childhood.
If you have Christian teens who love people, encourage them to find people in the early stages of dementia or children in foster care. Perhaps your teen would like to make a book capturing the faith stories of the various people in your congregation. Maybe, you have a teen who wants to record interviews with Christians about how they have seen God work in their lives.
I didn’t realize until I did this project myself, but photo sites also have templates which allow you to have an entire page of text or one with only one or two photos. If you use coupons and sales, you can publish a small, professional looking, hardcover book for not much more than you would pay for a novel at the bookstore.
Since I worked with Grandpa on his book, I have seen the tremendous impact these books can have on the “authors” as well as their family and friends. When Grandpa died a few months ago, quite a few people asked me for a copy of his book. As we told some of his story at the funeral, people found inspiration for their own faith walk and wanted to own the book. Unfortunately, the website I had used was not one that kept copies past a certain time. (Lesson learned!)
Encourage your teen to take notes if the people are reluctant or can’t write. Go on a treasure hunt for old photos. Spur your teen to ask meaningful questions in addition to ones normally asked in biographies. Encourage them to write at least part of the book on the person’s faith journey. When we did ours, I learned so much about my grandfather’s love for teaching the Gospel to people society marginalized. It renewed my passion for reaching out to everyone. Your teens may find similar inspiration from their subjects as well.
I would love to hear your teens’ stories of their books. Encourage them to share their experiences in a comment below.