At what age should children start to volunteer? My answer: at a young age! Kids who volunteer develop important skills and a mindset that help lead to success in other areas of their lives.
Volunteering helps children develop social skills, a sense of community, empathy, family bonds, and a wide range of interests. Furthermore, children who regularly volunteer tend to perform better in school and have higher high school and college graduation rates compared to children who do not volunteer.
Volunteering is at the heart of United Way’s commitment to advance the common good. We offer children, youth, and adults a range of virtual, remote, and in-person volunteer opportunities. We also engage in Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), an annual event that celebrates and mobilizes millions of young people ages 5-25 to improve their communities each year through service. This year GYSD is being celebrated April 23-25 with about 600 volunteer projects and celebrations planned in 26 countries and nearly all 50 states, making it the largest service event in the world. For example, in Pennsylvania the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley, part of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, has teamed with Kellyn Foundation to offer youth volunteers the chance to work in school gardens. Students will get an up-close and hands-on understanding of how food grows as well as its financial and nutritional value. Experiential activities like working in a garden engage students in math and science. Over the long term, school gardening projects support health and wellness by encouraging students to choose nutritious foods.
In addition to sponsoring GYSD, Youth Service America offers a wealth of resources for youth, educators, and families. Check out more resources below for information about volunteering and all the ways it contributes to children and youth growing up and into successful lives:
- Your local United Way offers a range of volunteer opportunities for all ages and may offer programs especially for teens and families.
- DoSomething.org engages 13- to 25-year-olds online in national campaigns.
- generationOn, part of Points of Light, provides programs and resources to engage kids and teens in service.
- TeenLife is a resource for parents, educators, and teenagers in grades 7-12 who are seeking programs and services for college-bound students.
- Volunteer Match offers a large database of volunteer opportunities.
How are you and the young people you know volunteering? Let us know and spread the word at #GYSD21!