Why All Teens Should Consider Doing Volunteer Work
The teenage years can be a difficult time for young people as they try to work out who they are and what they want to do with their lives.
Given the pressures they’re under, it’s not surprising that teenagers can come across as self-absorbed sometimes. This is exacerbated by today’s ‘selfie’ culture and social media.
Experts have long been aware that social media can cause feelings of depression and anxiety. When everyone else appears to be having more fun, it can be hard for teenagers to appreciate what they have. Young people who are so focused on how they appear to others are in danger of growing up with limited insight into the lives of those outside their peer group.
Volunteer work is an ideal way to help teens gain a broader view of the world and develop a sense empathy that will allow them to become mature and compassionate adults.
The Joy of Giving
It’s common knowledge that giving is its own reward and the sense of joy and fulfilment that comes from helping others is extremely rewarding, but the only way teenagers will find this out is by experiencing it for themselves.
When teens help other people, they tap into a part of themselves that they may not have known existed. The realisation that they have a deep well of empathy and kindness to draw from can change their lives.
Through volunteer work, young people get a taste of what it’s like to work in the caring professions, opening up career possibilities they may not have considered. They also learn how it feels to make a positive difference which can inspire them to do bigger and better things.
A Different View
Volunteering exposes teens to lives which may be very different to their own. People from all walks of life and backgrounds have much to offer and learning about their experiences will broaden young people’s horizons.
Having the ability to think beyond themselves and appreciate diversity will help young people excel personally and academically. Talking to the elderly, for example, will give them an appreciation for what older generations have lived through and allow them to see how everyone’s lives are shaped by larger forces.
Students who volunteer at an animal shelter will become more aware of the problems which lead to pets being abandoned. As a result, they are more likely to research the issue, tune in to debates about animal welfare and form opinions. Any type of volunteer work has the potential to develop critical thinking skills through exposure to new people and ideas.
How to Choose
Volunteer opportunities should be based on each teens’ interests and abilities. Not everyone wants to take on a caring role and some teens might be more interested in working outdoors or raising money for a cause.
The most popular volunteer roles are:
- Companion to the elderly or disabled
- Fostering a rescue animal
- Fundraising for a charity
- Assisting with a food drive
- Helping with Meals on Wheels
- Reading to kids at the local library
- Community clean-up days
- Gardening and bush regeneration
Contact your local volunteer centre to find out what roles are available for teens in your area.