School administrators are recognizing that young people need more than academics as they prepare to take the reins of leadership in the worlds of business, nonprofit, and government. Many of the North Shoreís high schools have made as much as 40 hours of volunteer service a graduation requirement. Some incorporate service learning into the classroom, with teachers building unique volunteer opportunities into the very foundation of learning. Either way, young people are discovering early that their skills, creativity, voices, and efforts are valuable to improving the lives of others and enriching their own community.
This is promising because nearly 90% of adults say being involved in positive social change as a child or teenager inspires people to be involved as adults, according to Walden Universityís 2013 Social Change Impact Report released this month.
Recently at North Shore United Way, weíve met some pretty impressive teenagers. One used her love of languages to help a local organization translate their materials so that they are accessible to clients who do not speak English, therefore reducing the need for translators for the organization and the barrier to clients who are in need of services. Another teen baked and delivered fresh, homemade desserts daily to a local shelter throughout her senior year, helping adults experiencing homelessness to feel celebrated on their birthdays ñ a true gift. In both cases, service was modeled at home by their parents, helping them discover early on the joy of helping others, and then reinforced in their school environments.
But what are young people to do? It can be challenging for families to find the right match--something that uses their teenís skills and interests while also fitting well into their busy lives. Here are EIGHT ideas for youth service. Each can be found on the NSUW's new Volunteer Hub at volunteer.nsuw.org, where site users can also easily respond to volunteer opportunities and contact local nonprofit organizations. As we head into summer months, consider getting involved in one of these teen-friendly volunteer opportunities.
- Like cooking? Help with meal preparation and/or service at a Community Meal at The Open Door.
- Throw a birthday party for the guests of River House shelter.
- Become a Bowling Buddy with Northeast Arc and help children and adults with disabilities enjoy a fun evening of bowling.
- Use afterschool time at VolunTEEN days at Community Giving Tree.
- Love animals? Windrush Farm needs horse handlers and side walkers to help with therapeutic riding sessions.
- Experience in web design, photography, or social media? Join the Beverly Farmers Market team and help get the word out about this great Beverly resource.
- Do you have some time during the weekday over the summer? Kiosk volunteers are needed to help guide local seniors through an interactive computer program designed to enrich their lives
- Help stock shelves, sort food, interact with visitors, or run your own food drive for your local food pantry.
--Sarah Bartley is a project manager at the North Shore United Way, which invests almost $1M each year in projects that transform lives and improve communities now and for future generations. NSUW is all about local impact by rigorously vetting and supporting dozens of causes that serve children, families, and seniors on the North Shore. For more information about the programs funded by NSUW donors, visit nsuw.org. Find a volunteer opportunity at volunteer.nsuw.org.