The Act of Volunteering Benefits Our Teens
It’s a common frustration of parents and other adults that most of our youth have become a ‘me’ generation. Their attention and their scope of interest do not seem to reach beyond what directly affects them. It seems that a lack of empathy is encroaching itself upon the new generations. One of the good ways to address this is to actively engage our teens in volunteering programs and organizations.
Volunteerism is the act or participation in the altruistic activity of labor, particularly in community services. There are various types of volunteer opportunities for teens across the United States. Types like Educational and School related volunteer opportunities which focus on activities like tutoring, helping in the classroom beyond the regular class hours, book drives aiming at helping particular communities, and campus beautification that touch upon recycling drives and doing some labor. There are several other types to choose from that fit different skills and interests.
Having our teens exposed to activities that place them in an environment wherein the focus is not themselves, will help cultivate understanding on the plight of others and hone their situational awareness. Volunteering helps turn the direction of interest from inward to outward. It provides a good opportunity for the teens to realize that they are fully capable of using skills they already possess for the benefit of their fellow man and their community. Do you have a teen with the affinity for sports? They can sign up for outreach programs that build sporting teams for disenfranchised communities.
The act of volunteering has been proven to be a catalyst toward important self-realizations in those that participate in them. All volunteer programs start with an orientation to familiarize the participants with the activity and the do’s and do not’s. It equips the teens with the know-how on how to deal with certain scenarios that may arise. Orientation also provides a certain amount of expectation on what they’ll be getting into.
Volunteerism empowers the youth during the precarious time of transition from teen to young adult. A lot of our teens have developed the need for immediate gratification. It is something that their social media usage feeds. Immediate gratification is also something that most parents want to curb and then channel into something good. So how would volunteer activities supplement that need and funnel it toward something more positive? Activities that focus on community service like helping animals in need, doing work at an animal shelter or rescue center, beach cleanups, and vegetable pickings yield immediate results.
Teens also crave validation and interaction. Volunteering helps deepen interactions and connections between teens and their peers. There is nothing quite like the bonds that are forged through a fulfilling hands-on activity. The ability to practice and sharpen teamwork abilities is crucial for any teen. A big bonus would be the discovery of leadership capabilities. Vast self-improvement has been known to occur during and after volunteer activities. Time management, dependability, and communication are just a few of the personal aspects that are enhanced by volunteering.
For teens that are goal-oriented and have a clear idea on what profession they want to get into, volunteering offers a great chance for them to practice the skills necessary and obtain hands-on experience at a relatively young age. If you have a teen that wishes to break into the medical field, there are organizations like Lion’s Heart: Teen Volunteers and Leaders have programs that partner with medical missions and even some hospitals.
Volunteering also provides the opportunity to go abroad to countries like The Dominican Republic, India, Spain, Bali, and many others. Most teen volunteers find that it is not only their own lives that they enrich through volunteering. It’s also the lives of those they come into contact with and those that they help both long-term and short-term.
Having an established history for volunteering also looks great in college applications! It is something that all admissions offices look out for. They always aim to admit students that have it in them to espouse the ideals and vision of their particular establishment.
As you can see, volunteering is an activity that is worth exposing your teens to. It is something that also a parent can get into. Altruism isn’t something that we improve without active cultivation. Any positive value cannot flourish by itself. Parents are an integral ingredient to building well-rounded teens that grown into effective leaders of tomorrow. So let’s start today. Talk your teens about volunteering.