It’s often thought that volunteering is just for adults, however, there’s certainly no age limit when it comes to giving something back. In fact, it’s a great idea to encourage your teenage son or daughter to get involved. Not only is it wonderfully rewarding, but will help your teens develop so many new skills and provide beneficial experiences. If your teen would like to start volunteering but isn’t quite sure what they’re going to enjoy, we’ve come up with a few ideas they can get involved with.
Why Is Volunteering So Important?
- It’s a great opportunity to give back and teens can gain a sense of personal satisfaction from helping others.
- It does wonders for mental and physical health.
- Volunteering can teach teens how to build social skills, network, and build a list of contacts.
- Volunteer experience can set teens apart from other applicants for job and school applications. Not only does it show they’re ambitious, but also that they care about the community and are willing to work to affect change.
Ways Teens Can Volunteer
- At School
Start by looking close to home for volunteer opportunities. For example, your teen’s school may need some volunteers to help younger students with maths or spelling, run an extracurricular activity, or be a mentor for students struggling to fit in or are new to the school. Remember, there’s no specific way teens have to volunteer and it can take many different routes, all of which will be beneficial!
- Food Banks
Food banks not only need regular donations but also need helping hands to sort through the food, carry boxes, or hand food out. Even if your teen doesn't have a lot of time to work in a food bank, they may be able to participate in fundraisers or local events. Contact your local food bank to learn how you can best assist them.
- Animal Shelters
Volunteering isn’t just for supporting humans. Animal shelters rely on volunteers to help care for animals and their facilities, as well as for events and activities. Volunteers often help walk dogs, groom cats, clean kennels, and assist with meals. It’s a wonderfully rewarding opportunity for teens, especially if they’re an animal lover. Don’t forget, some shelters have a minimum age for volunteers, so you may need parental consent.
- Hospitals or Nursing Homes
Healthcare facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes often rely on volunteers, whether it’s for transporting patients to the cafeteria, running to the gift shop, greeting visitors, or just chatting and listening to the residents. If your teen is willing to give up just a bit of their time, we bet they’ll also find it extremely rewarding and it’s such a simple way to make a difference to someone else’s day. Contact your local hospital or nursing home for more information on their volunteer programmes.
- Charity Shops
Charity shops are often crying out for volunteers to go in and work selling items in their stores, sorting through donations or setting up fundraising events. It can give your teen some excellent retail work experience including customer service, time management, and an insight on how to keep a shop up and running that runs purely on donations.
- Local Community
If your teen would like to volunteer some of their time but they’re really not sure what to do to give back, it’s a great idea to check local newspapers and notice boards to see what’s going on within your community. There’s also a number of websites where they can search for local volunteering opportunities such as, Step Up To Serve, Do-it and Volunteering Matters. Volunteering locally can be extremely rewarding for teens as they’ll feel as though they’re directly giving to the place they live and helping the local people they know. Whether it’s assisting with a community garden project, cleaning up the local park, painting a school fence, or lending a hand with a local fundraising event- any contribution will be appreciated by all!
Finally, not all teens have lots of time to volunteer, especially if it’s close to exams or they have a particularly busy schedule. Instead encourage your teens to donate. Whether this is their unwanted clothes, toys, sports equipment, books or even baking something for a local fundraising event- it all counts. There are so many families or children who don’t have access to decent quality clothes, or have very little toys to play with, so giving what is no longer fulfilling their needs is an admirable thing to do. Even if it's only a few items, every bit helps. It’s also important for teens to do a bit of research before donating their items - this way they can give to a cause they’re really passionate about.