Volunteering is an excellent way for your teenager to gain more experience in a particular field of interest. It is usually a requirement for graduating high schoolers and learners appreciate that they are able to add the experience to their resumes. Volunteering for a worthy cause is also a great addition to your teenagers college application form. In fact, their commitment to a long term volunteer program shows their dedication, compassion and ability to work hard.
When choosing a volunteer opportunity, find out what your child’s interests are. Make a list of their favorite hobbies and future goals and dreams. Determine how much time would be available to commit to a program and consider things like the age requirement and level of commitment needed, before signing up.
When searching for programs keep in mind that it includes training for a specific job, in a specific field. It would be easier for your teenager to get involved in an industry that they have an interest in. Volunteer opportunities for your teenager are easier to find than you think. Here are some ideas of possible volunteer prospects that your teen could pursue:
Volunteer by helping people in need
Volunteering at your local frail care facility, orphanage or homeless shelter is a rewarding way for your teenager to spend their free time. Offering to help at a soup kitchen could find them cooking or distributing food to the homeless. Cleaning plates and utensils or offering to assist with administrative tasks might also be on the cards. Soup kitchen volunteering might not be as strict as some of the other volunteer opportunities, since most soup kitchens allow you to simply show up for a shift when you have free time. Food bank volunteers may face a more stringent schedule. Food bank assistants are responsible for sorting, inspecting and repackaging donated food items.
Assisting the elderly or at a children’s home is also a great way to learn while offering your time to a worthy cause. Nursing homes need assistance with clean up, meal distribution and even entertaining the elderly. Orphanages and children’s homes may be a bit more stringent on whom they allow through their doors, but if your teen has a passion for working with children then it may be worth the interview.
Volunteer by helping the community
If your teen is interested in making a difference but may not be keen on working that closely with people, they could consider volunteering at community programs such as Habitat for Humanity. This program assists with constructing homes for people who cannot afford to buy a house. This type of volunteering may involve your teen getting their hands dirty and if your child enjoys working with their hands and is looking into studying construction or architecture, then it would be ideal for them.
Signing up as a beach or park clean up volunteer, or to help maintain the local community garden, is also a great way for your teen to clock in volunteering hours, while helping the community. Although this may not be a long-term volunteering commitment, since it’s not as regimented as some of the other programs are, your teen is still able to pick up valuable life skills and experiences through their commitment.
Volunteer at a museum
If your child is a whiz at history, art or science then volunteering at the local museum should excite them! Find out which museums are in your area (Google Search would work) to find out what your options are. Most museum’s offer volunteer programs that will see your teenager providing admin support such as ticketing, assisting museum patrons and maybe even working as a museum tour guide or workshop host.
Depending on the type of museum (eg. Art Museum or Natural History Museum) you may be required to complete paperwork and provide a resume and references before being accepted into their volunteer program.
Volunteer at a library
A library volunteer gig might interest your teenager if they have a love for reading, writing or history. Library volunteers usually take on tasks such as organising and repairing books and assisting library patrons to locate books or use the computer. Libraries that offer holiday programs might require volunteers to read stories to younger children during story time. Some libraries even offer up homework assist services. If your child has an interest in education or becoming a teacher, then this would work for them.
Volunteer tutoring is also a great way for your child with a passion for teaching to gain experience. The School on Wheels initiative offers youth in disadvantaged areas free tutoring and encourage more tutor volunteers to sign up to their program. There are also other volunteer tutoring opportunities such as tutoring online, via Skype, or even at your local elementary or middle school.
Volunteer at an animal shelter
There are various animal-related volunteer opportunities available for teenagers with a love of animals. Most animal shelters require their volunteers to be above the age of 16 years old. Some of the tasks that volunteers attend to are cleaning up and feeding the animals, maintaining paperwork and other administrative duties. Animal shelters usually require you to sign up to a program where you are given time slots to commit to.
Working with wild animals at an animal sanctuary or zoo is also a great way to gain experience, if their passion is to pursue a career as a zoologist. Most zoos expect you to go through a vigorous training program first, in order to maintain the conservation of the plants and animals in the sanctuary.
Volunteer at a hospital
Volunteering at a hospital is a good way for your prospective future doctor or nurse to determine if it really is the career that they want to pursue. Most programs begin with orientation and training, where you will most likely be assigned a specific job or duty. Some of the volunteer opportunities available for students include working at the information desk or customer service centre, being a greeter or concierge, assisting the clerical staff, helping with delivery of mail and assisting in the hospital kitchen. Although hospital volunteers are not allowed to practice medicine, they might still be given the task of assisting patients by making sure they are comfortable.
Encourage your teenager to use their volunteer opportunity to build meaningful relationships and to learn as much as possible – this is the opportune time for them to explore their passions, investigate possible career paths or support a well-loved cause.