Volunteering & Community Service

A lot of attention has been given to youth involvement in community service and volunteer activities. Community participation is now a requirement for high school graduation in many states. Involvement in community service has been found to have a variety of positive outcomes on young peoples development, including: academic improvement, commitment to service, problem-solving skills, increased social and psychological development, decreased problem behavior, leadership development, self-confidence, career exploration, and positive relationships with peers. Key to the success of community service programs are built-in reflection time for the participants, involving youth as leaders in the program and within specific activities, giving youth hands-on experiences, focusing on relationship-building, and giving youth a say in decisions made throughout planning, implementation and reflection.

Ways to involve youth in community service include:

Encourage youth children or the youth you work with to volunteer and become involved in their community.

Create and publicize service opportunities for youth and families.

Match service opportunities to young people’s interests and abilities.

Make volunteering convenient for children and teens by scheduling projects after school and on weekends, providing transportation and adult supervision, and donating supplies to make the project a reality.

Create neighborhood service projects and/or faith congregation projects that bring youth, families, and different generations together.

Inform other community institutions about the value of youth community service projects and encourage them to create and involve youth in opportunities with their organization or institution.

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