Volunteering for Teens
How can we go about motivating these often unmotivated and self-centered young people that are our teenagers?
“I don’t have the time” I hear you cry and this is quite understandable with the busy lives we lead. However, the volunteering we do to get our child interested doesn’t have to be time consuming or even regular activity. For example, most cities and large towns have a Christmas homeless project that needs people to give up a few hours over the holiday period to help with the preparation and serving of meals or just keeping people in the hostel company. This can be a fun and very worthwhile way to beat the self-indulgent nature of the whole consumerist Christmas thing. Not only that, it is something that the whole family can do together.
The second factor that influenced whether a teenager volunteered was community connections. This often meant a church group but equally could be getting involved in a local annual event such as a charity gala or summer fayre. So getting involved in the local community is definitely a positive step that will have a knock-on effect on your child. Find and befriend your local activist – every community has one and will, I’m sure, welcome you with open arms.
If we accept that teenagers are mercenary, it can help if we can answer the question, what’s in it for me? Ok, so there won’t be any financial reward, but it will help with their future job prospects. As well as looking good on a CV and making them a more attractive proposition for an employer, it will give them valuable contacts for future employment opportunities and will also help them to be clearer about what work they might like to do in the future.
We also know that teenagers are very influenced by their peers. So talk to their friends at the same time if you can. Suggest that they all do something together. If you know their friends’ parents, or even if you don’t, make contact and get them on board too.
Finally, you may be wondering how to find out what opportunities exist. As a start, there may be local organizations that you can approach, for example an animal charity, a special school or environmental project. However, if there isn’t, then get in touch with your local volunteer bureau which will have lists of local opportunities; you may be surprised by all the varied and interesting ‘jobs’ that are on offer. A visit to my local bureau pulled up a whole host of possibilities for young people including riding for the disabled, youth panel membership, fundraising and festival organisation. Who knows, there may be something to tempt you as well...
Below are a few of many websites that have information and guidance for young people who want to volunteer.