Community activities are valuable for youth on many levels. Being involved in the community helps teens recognize their place in the community and understand that everyone makes a difference. Involvement in the community creates a special bond with the community and helps youth to realize their full potential. Additionally, involvement in community activities gives youth concrete experience that translates into job experience, builds leadership skills and may help direct future career choices.
Activities through Community Organizations
Community activities take many forms. Fun activities are created by churches, schools and other organizations for the purpose of building relationships with others and developing skills. Other activities might be service related, involving youth in volunteer projects. Volunteer positions are available for youth at most nonprofit community service organizations such as local churches, hospitals, libraries and schools, the Red Cross, YMCA, animal shelters, food banks, soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Most senior citizen centers need volunteers to interact with seniors and lead activities. Local parks and museums may need volunteers to lead nature walks and guided tours.
Creating Community Activities for Youth
Organizations or groups of teens can create their own programs based on the interests of youth members. Start a project to collect food for your local food pantry. Gather a group of older youth and parents to build a home for Habitat for Humanity or to repair and paint homes in your local community. Perhaps your group would be interested in sponsoring a stretch of highway or cleaning up the local park. Are your group members concerned about the environment? Use your group to raise awareness about local environmental concerns and petition to get laws passed to address concerns. Start a recycling program that encourages families to make materials available to reuse rather than discarding them to landfills. Youth with computer skills can build websites for community organizations or teach computer skills to others. Teens are often more skilled in technology issues than adults, so put those skills to use. Research and focus on problems of youth in your community. Does local business violate the law and sell cigarettes and alcohol to minors? Collect information about how this is happening that may help to prevent these activities. Present your data to the city council with recommendations for changes in laws or needed training.
When considering what types of community activities might be best for your group, you must consider the ages and skills of the involved members. Consider liability issues in case someone is injured. Purchase insurance or get releases signed by parents to protect the group. Teens looking to put together a group for community projects should seek adult sponsorship and advice.
- 20 Ways for Teenagers to Help Others by Volunteering
- Beyond Leaf Raking, Peter L. Benson and Eugene C Roehlkepartain, 1993
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