Notre Dame students encourage youth service

Author: Mollie Zubek


With hundreds of student organizations at the University of Notre Dame that offer service opportunities, it is no great challenge for students to find ways to become involved in the community. For local middle school students, however, service projects to better their own schools and neighborhoods are not as plentiful. Enter Lead-ND, a student organization that works with local youth to teach them the importance of service in their own backyards.

Lead-ND, a network of student volunteers at Notre Dame, recently participated in community service projects with middle school students throughout the city of South Bend.

The student-run organization aims to place traditionally under-resourced youth in a positive environment where they will be encouraged to evaluate community needs and implement change through service projects.

Fifty South Bend middle school students and 30 Notre Dame students contributed to National Youth Service Day last month, beginning with a pep rally at Legends and then participation in a variety of projects throughout the city, including painting a mural at the West Side Democratic Club, serving meals at the Center for the Homeless, making cards and fleece blankets for pediatric patients at Memorial Hospital, and picking up trash at Potawatomi Park and the Nuner Elementary School playground.

“We share the responsibility of the community with these students,” said Notre Dame senior John Wanek, president of Lead-ND. “Our goal is to empower them to make change within their community because a lot of times they are cast aside as being too young to help. We believe in these students, the program and the betterment of the community.”

This year, the group also has attended Notre Dame women’s basketball games, taken a tour of the football stadium, visited a nursing home and area food banks, and participated in painting and clean-up projects at Jefferson Intermediate School.

More information about Lead-ND is available on the Web at

Contact: John Wanek, Lead-ND president,