"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." -Dr. Seuss
We are never too young to give back to others in some way. Being a contributor to a cause is incredibly valuable to children. When children devote special time, positive energy and mindful creativity, they are able to open their eyes to the world around them in new ways. They are able to realize that though they are small and the world is large, their impacts make them feel larger and the world seem smaller. They can see that while much is out of their control, they have the control to always help another person or creature.
Five Important Reasons to Encourage Volunteering
1. Volunteers Make a Difference
There are countless causes to devote time and energy into. And, no matter what cause a volunteer chooses, they are making a significant difference in the lives of others. Cleaning up parks frees the environment of waste and helps animals, plants and other humans breathe cleaner air. Cleaning up beaches helps marine animals have a safer place to live and better chance at survival. Making bags for the homeless helps provide them with essential items they are desperately in need of. Donating toys and books to a foster home allows other children to enjoy things they wouldn't otherwise have. What volunteers do matters in the world around them.
2. Volunteering Builds Social Skills
Children learn social skills through modeling from their parents, involvement with peers, lessons from loved ones and other people they share experiences with. Volunteering is a wonderful way for children to participate with others in a socially enriching manner. Communication skills deepen as children concentrate and actively listen, so they will be able to perform the task at hand. Children nurture their interpersonal skills as they join activities and share with others. Problem-solving skills improve as they creatively think of their own ideas to benefit the cause. Accountability skills are fostered as children take ownership of their actions. Empathy is enriched as they connect with others and can actually feel for other living beings. The rewards of volunteering make a positive impact on the child.
3. Volunteers Discover New Passions
Children are inquisitive by nature. They have a hunger for knowledge and eagerness to learn. Volunteering exposes children to new interests and can lead to the igniting of passion. With so many important causes, children can explore their interests in new and exciting ways. While cleaning the beach, they may realize that marine life is a passion they want to explore. While working with animals, children may discover their passion lies in bringing joy to pets left behind. They may find they have a strong interest for the environment while picking up litter from streets. While planting flowers, they may discover they have a love for simply being in nature. They may find that their strong passion is simply making others smile while serving meals in a food bank. Children have interests and passions just waiting to be discovered, and volunteering can be the path that leads them there.
4. Volunteering Brings Gratitude
Helping those who are less fortunate can ingrain a deep sense of gratitude within children. The way children live their lives is generally how they believe others live their lives too. When children volunteer, their eyes open to the world around them and their perspective changes. They become aware that there are people in the world with far less than them. They see that the things they take for granted, like a warm place to sleep, a hot meal and clean clothes, are the same things others are in desperate need of. It is within these realizations that children are able to deepen their sense of appreciation for the blessings in their lives that are both big and small. Volunteering opens the heart just as it does the eyes.
5. Volunteering Boosts Confidence
There are many mind and body benefits that children can reap from volunteering. One of these benefits is a healthy boost of confidence levels. While children are making a difference in the lives of others and doing good for their communities, their sense of accomplishment builds. They realize that they are a truly important part of the world as they help a cause. Children also naturally feel a sense of accomplishment as they are taken out of their comfort zones and help to achieve a greater purpose. Volunteering can help build self-esteem.