Community service is just as important for high school students as a paying job. We would say most parents and high school counselors agree. In fact, most high schools have a volunteer requirement for graduation.
We are often asked two common questions: “What are my teen’s options for volunteer activities? How can I find an activity that my teen will enjoy?”
Today, there are a ton of service opportunities for teenagers. With a little bit of brainstorming, you are bound to come up with something your student will actually have fun and enjoy doing.
Community Service Teaches Life Skills
Helping others in need doesn’t always come easy for high school students. Today, most students are juggling school, the college admissions process, extra-curricular activities, paying jobs, family life, and social circles.
Paying jobs teach teenagers responsibility and job-related skills. Volunteer activities also teach responsibility and job related skills while reinforcing humbleness, empathy, and facilitating high school students to take pride in their work. It doesn’t hurt that it greatly enhances college admission applications, either!
Your Teen Should Enjoy What They Are Accomplishing
A volunteer activity should be something that your student enjoys. If your teen enjoys the service that they are providing, they will not mind putting in the extra work that is often involved with volunteering. As a bonus, if they truly enjoy the difference that they are making, they are more likely to stick with it for the long term!
The first step in finding a volunteer activity that your high school student will actually enjoy is determining what they are interested in.
Questions To Ask
What are my child’s hobbies? What do they enjoy doing in their spare time? What skills does my teen have? Is there a career they are working towards? What has my teen experienced or accomplished that may be of use to others?
Think about how you can combine multiple interests or skills into a volunteer activity:
- A teenager who is studying photography, loves animals, and enjoys social media might approach the local humane society to photograph adoptable animals. Your child could then post the pictures to the society’s social media accounts in order to promote adoption agendas.
- A high school student who enjoys the outdoors and teaching others could volunteer to teach an outdoor skill to younger summer camp attendees.
- A teenager who is working towards a career in healthcare and enjoys being around children might volunteer to keep patients company at a children’s hospital.
Seek Out An Organization
Many organizations centered around volunteers are available for your high school student to join. Most organizations encompass a large variety of volunteer activities. Your teen won’t get bored!
Here are a couple of suggestions to check out:
- 4-H – The 4-H program specializes in all-around youth development while placing a major emphasis on volunteer service at the local, state, and country level. Depending on the club your teenager joins, your child will usually attend monthly meetings, contribute towards multiple volunteer activities, and take on personal development projects. 4-H is available almost everywhere! Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service, or use this online tool, to find a club near you for your student to join.
- Youth Volunteer Corps – This organization helps provide youth with team-based volunteer activities which are tailored to the needs of your own local community. Although the organization started in Kansas, many chapters are available throughout the US. If there isn’t one near you, have your high school student start one!
- DoSomething.org – With a goal of inspiring people of all ages to take action and make a difference and an easy to use site, you can’t go wrong with this organization. This non-profit lists countless campaigns for your teen to contribute to. Find one your child thinks looks fun, and then contribute together. With some campaigns offering awards and scholarships, you can give back and be rewarded for your efforts.
- Cooperation for National & Community Service (Americorps) – Find programs to volunteer with by using this national agency. Americorps partners with local agencies around the U.S. to provide service. The agency tailors its outreach efforts to military families, disaster services, educational opportunities, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and economic opportunities.
Find A Local Need. Then, fill it.
Sit down with your teen to brainstorm problems you have witnessed in your community. Is there something your child could do to fill the void?
If you still need some ideas, try these areas:
- Help the Homeless – Search for local soup kitchens, food drives, and battered women’s shelters. Could your teen organize a dollar store shopping trip to collect items for the needy?
- Utilize a Love for Animals – Reach out to local animal shelters. Your teen could offer to play and walk the shelter residents. If your child is handy with wood, could they build a cat climbing post or dog houses?
- Spend Time With The Elderly – Reach out to nursing homes and elderly communion clubs. Could your child bring small holiday gifts to give to its residents? Could your computer whiz teen teach a class in computer skills to the elderly? Could your child build bird feeders to place outside nursing home windows?
- Help Underprivileged Children – Does your child play a sport? Maybe they could offer to teach underprivileged children their sport or organize games and sporting events for children in poverty. Could they teach a skill or a craft?
- Offer Up Services At A Library – Contact your local library. Could your child help catalog or organize the libraries holdings? If your teen loves history, many libraries are taking up historical records, newspaper, and heirloom indexing projects. Your teenage could even organize social media campaigns to further the library’s outreach programs.
- Get Involved With a Charity – If there is a particular issue your teen seems interested in, see if a charity exists. Contact the charity and see if there is an area in which your teen could offer services or a program they could help raise funds for.
Being involved in your community is important for all age groups. It can be even more important for teens. Volunteer service not only makes your child feel proud of what they have accomplished, but it also helps to beef up college admission applications and is often a requirement for graduation.
If your high school student is enjoying what they are accomplishing, and having fun all the while, they will be more likely to be continue their volunteer activities throughout adulthood.
And that’s really our final goal — to raise mature, wonderful, and compassionate adults. Help your high school student turn their passions and hobbies into a volunteer activity. Be sure to hear their thoughts and ideas!
What tactics are you using to get your high school student more involved in his or her community? Where do you think your teen could help in his or her community?