Benefits of Engaging Teens with Their Community
Research shows that involving teens in their communities benefits both themselves and those they serve. Two aspects of the effectiveness of teen volunteers are the overall development for the young person and the support that he or she will find through further involvement in the community. In other words, all parties benefit.
From a Parent’s Perspective
Parents might want to encourage teens to engage in community service or even work with them together for the following reasons:
- The feeling of fulfillment – As a family, you can strengthen your core values and obtain a deep satisfaction through serving others.
- Strengthen your family – Families often look for activities that cost little to no money. Giving to others fulfills that requirement – it costs nothing, and you can all work together, serving others in the community. Two examples of great service projects include caroling at a nursing home or creating gift baskets to donate to a homeless shelter.
- Benefiting the community – When you build up even one small part of the community, everyone benefits.
What Teens Learn Through Community Service
When young people serve their neighbors in the community, they learn a number of things, such as:
- The difference that one person can make – They feel empowered as they learn that their actions impact and benefit someone for the better.
- How to be tolerant – Young people will work with others from all types of backgrounds, which removes them from their isolated environment and places them in a cooperative setting with others. Despite their diversity, everyone works together toward a common goal.
- Wise use of their time – While some teens fill their after-school hours with sports, others can keep busy through community service.
- Responsibility – Community service for teens teaches them time management skills, including making and keeping promises. They learn how to do their best and feel proud of themselves for a positive outcome. They also learn that they are responsible to better the community.
- How sacrifice helps others – When your teen gives up their own personal wants to give to someone with much less, he or she personally experiences the benefits of sacrifice. For example, instead of spending two or three hours playing with electronics, he or she can help others.
- Practical job skills – Involvement in the community can help an adolescent with future career decisions. They can volunteer as tutors, in hospitals, for political candidates, building homes or serving at a food bank or homeless shelter, to name just a few. Exposure to a wide range of activities provides them with better insight into their likes and possible future goals.
- Developing character and leadership skills – Even more important than basic job skills, a young person will learn leadership skills that will help him or her stand out in college applications, internships and future careers. In addition to those already listed, some of these positive character qualities include taking initiative, patience and goal setting.