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Volunteer work can be a great opportunity for teens! Not only is it great for them to learn to put others first and to get outside of their comfort zones, but it also looks great on college applications and job applications! There are lots of wonderful reasons for teens to volunteer, and we’d like to share 6 of them with you. And if you have some reasons we didn’t cover, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Volunteering can impact your teen in many ways and positively affect their future. Here’s how:
- Teens learn to be leaders: Teens sometimes struggle to find their voice and to develop a lasting identity as they become young adults. Volunteering brings out the best in everyone, and, for teens, it can give them the courage and confidence to be leaders in all aspects of their life. It’s vital to have leadership opportunities while a teen is still impressionable, since this allows them to develop a strong sense of initiative prior to entering college and the workplace.
- Teens practice empathy and compassion: Stepping into “another person’s shoes” isn’t always so easy for a teenager, especially since they live in the second by second social media digital world. Serving others and connecting with people of all ages and backgrounds in the “real world,” particularly those in different circumstances than they are used to seeing, can be really eye-opening. Volunteering is an experience that provides an opportunity to practice compassion, understanding, and empathy for other individuals and see beyond their everyday life.
- Teens step out of their “safety” zone: Volunteering takes bravery and getting out of one’s comfort zone is a very important lesson to learn. Whether it’s getting up the courage to help build a home with a group of strangers, or getting to know a child with special needs as a mentor, stepping out of the norm within a safe volunteer environment can be very empowering. As teens start to become more independent and begin to make decisions for themselves, the act of embracing the unfamiliar can lead to endless benefits.
- Teens explore opportunities and find their passions: Along with volunteering comes the privilege of numerous opportunities. When your teen becomes exposed to all of these new volunteer opportunities, they may discover new passions and potential career paths. For example, if a teen volunteers at an animal shelter, they may find that they want to become a Veterinarian one day or if they really love working with kids in the Special Olympics they may decide to become a special education professional.
- Teens learn to manage their time: Like any activity your teen is involved in, it is essential for them to be punctual and know how to efficiently budget their time. This is where volunteering becomes an excellent practice in accountability and responsibility. Comparable to being part of a team, having a part-time job, or participating in extracurricular activities, volunteering is a group activity where every participant is counting on one another to be on time and to participate to the best of their ability.
- Teens learn that positive actions have positive impact in their lives: Several colleges and universities, including Ivy League schools, have adopted a portfolio-based application in place of the Common App. Higher education institutions are extremely interested in how highly accomplished teens have used their gifts to make a positive impact on their communities. Volunteering and giving back to the community will leave lasting impressions and will produce numerous benefits for your teen!
A little about Lion’s Heart:
Founded in 2004, Lion’s Heart is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit teen volunteer platform available to 6th – 12th grade students. The organization instills the value of community service in its Members, providing meaningful life skills through leadership opportunities and philanthropic experiences. Over the years, Members have performed a combined total of more than 700,000 volunteer hours.
Headquartered in Southern California, has grown to 140 chapters across 22 states, and is actively expanding its reach by adding new chapters across the country on a daily basis. Groups have between three and twenty teens and are organized by gender, grade, and location. Though each group has a parent Class Coordinator, the teens elect their own officers, lead their own meetings, and decide how to serve their community – with no fundraising. For more information visit their website.
Written collaboratively by Steph Hicks, Lion’s Heart Digital Marketing and Creative Director, and Marketing Interns, Kaelyn Lustig and Savannah Moersch.