Inspiring Youth to Volunteer

The Eastern Cape is one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. Unemployment levels are high and poverty is widespread. Bathurst is no exception to these sad statistics. Each year hundreds of homeless people flood the Grahamstown Arts Festival, hoping to get lucky with a bit of food or work. In fact a great deal of them do, as there are hundreds of temporary car guard jobs and lots of food scraps to be gathered from food vendors trading at the festival. Unfortunately the festival only lasts for 10 day and then it disappears just as quickly as it arrived and the Eastern Cape returns to it’s forlorn and sombre state of desperation..

By volunteering at your chosen charity organization you can inspire the youth of today to become more involved in the community. Volunteering can be a great learning experience for children and teenagers. How how would you go about inspiring them to take the step and offer their time up for a good cause? Many people travel to foreign and third world countries to offer their help – to volunteer in South Africa would be a great choice. There is no shortage of helping hands needed in the Eastern Cape.

Getting children to start volunteering at an early age will help to create a lasting effect that can develop with the child into adulthood. Be an example by taking your children with you when you go to participate in a volunteer programme. For example you can share your experience, if you offer your services to the local community by helping to plant vegetable gardens for the underprivileged so they can have food for themselves or even sell to make an income. Observing and even assisting at a young age could be a main reason why some youths carry on volunteer work into adulthood.
Try to make the volunteer work something they enjoy doing and not some chore that has to be completed. Pick volunteer ideas that you think would fit best with your child or teenager; for instance if they like animals they could volunteer at the local animal shelter.  A child can even be indirectly involved, if they are creative for example, to make beaded bracelets to sell and then give the money to their chosen charity. Working with friends and making a difference together can also be a great way to serve the community; such as having a yard sale and then give the money made away to somebody in need.
Besides the large charity organizations, there are also smaller more local volunteer opportunities that might help introduce an idea to your child. You can check your local library, animal shelter or retirement facilities where a child or teenager could assist and become involved. A nice idea I read about, is becoming a pen pal to soldiers who are overseas. A child could also get involved by joining groups like boy or girl scouts and other school groups that regularly offer volunteer services to the community. These groups also help to teach your child ethical values.
Starting a charity organization yourself and trying to involve the youth can be difficult. Some ideas you could consider are: visiting local schools, churches and youth groups to create awareness and help to spread the word for youth volunteers. Make your presentation fun and recognize each young volunteer as a valuable person on the team.  When dealing with young volunteers encourage young minds to come up with new ideas and solutions as they have a different perspective than other peers in the group.  Make sure that you can be flexible in time when it comes to volunteering and that there is a support system in place to help the volunteer when needed. African Sunrise will help you to volunteer South Africa.
There are many creative ways to encourage the youth to become involved. Here are some ideas you can use to become involved in the community and also to encourage your child to volunteer.
•    Help to deliver meals to a friend or neighbour in need
•    Visit a nursing home and offer to play games or do crafts with the elderly
•    Help toddlers make cookies and offer these to the garbage men who come around every week or visit the local police or fire station.
•    Do some errands for somebody who is ill or cannot perform their usual household tasks.
•    Form a group to pick up litter in your community
•    Donate  your toys or items you don’t use to charities
•    Form a youth group of your own that performs charitable works in the community
•    Get involved in youth volunteer groups
There are ideas and opportunities available everywhere, just try to make it creative so it becomes a part of each of their lives. Making an impact and changing the world one idea at a time.