Youth volunteering can promote responsible behavior, improve academic results, support community connectedness and increase social-emotional skills, according to Youth.gov. Knowing that volunteering at community organizations can do all that, you and your kids may be looking for ways to jump in more regularly. After all, donating time once in a while is cool, but there’s something especially rewarding when families give back consistently.
Let’s look at how to do just that.
Start With You
Are you volunteering regularly? If not, this could be the best place to begin. Having an established time every week or month to give back sets a good example. It demonstrates that it’s right to make time to care for your community.
If you’re currently a regular volunteer, determine if what you work on is something your kids could get involved with. What you do could be too difficult (like bookkeeping) or too dangerous (like roofing) for children. However, other tasks might be kid friendly. For example, if you pack boxes of food for needy families, this is something your children could do along with you. Doing tasks together not only gets your kids volunteering, but it can promote bonding and bring you closer together.
If you aren’t volunteering or if what you do won’t work for your child or teen, there are still plenty of ways to get them civically engaged. Check out a few of these ideas for where to find volunteering opportunities.
- Religious Groups: Look to your faith community for goings-on. Maybe your place of worship runs a clothing center or food bank. These can be perfect places for kids to lend a hand.
- Local Government Initiatives: From graffiti clean-up to cultural association programs, there are plenty of ways to get involved with your town. Given the diversity of opportunity, this is a great way to put your child’s interests in the driver’s seat and let them work on an issue that speaks to them.
- Environmental Groups: Most regions have their share of active, organized greenies. Contact your local nonprofit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, for example, to see how your whole family can help build (and maintain) nearby trails.
- Scouting Troops: Don’t forget classic establishments like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. This option lets your child do much more than volunteer. Scouting helps kids experience an array of positive adventures, interact with peers and engage in regular, ongoing community outreach.
- Animal Organizations: Service dogs perform a variety of tasks for their owners. But have you ever thought about who trains these dogs? Families like yours can participate in raising puppies to help others — a true commitment indeed.
- Advocacy Groups: Is your child a budding activist? Many community organizations offer youth empowerment programs designed to teach kids how to successfully advocate for a cause. This can set them up for a lifetime of community involvement. Find out what your child’s areas of interests are and search for related nonprofits with youth programs.
There really is nothing like getting a glimpse of your child’s compassion for others. And when you see that goodness in action, it’s natural to want to encourage it over and over. If you’re ready to take the next step and get them involved, these options will help get you there.