By Maja Begovic
Any parent will tell you that their to-do lists are brimming with schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Family calendars are jam-packed with homework assignments, reading lists, hockey practice, dance recitals, swimming lessons and community service. If you haven’t scheduled volunteering in your family calendar, it’s time to put it on the list this month. Whether your children are in kindergarten or in their teens, introducing them to volunteer opportunities helps to embed a spirit of service and builds their lifelong commitment to civic involvement.
Keep it simple and fun
Food banks are a great way to get kids to volunteer alongside their parents. All children love working with their hands and can help categorize and label food items. Another idea is to take your child to a nursing home where they can meet and bond with seniors, play board games and work on fun arts and crafts projects together.
Take volunteering to the next level
Fine-tune their passion for volunteering by getting your kids to think about what they’d like to see improve in their school, neighbourhood or community centre. Ask them to come up with a plan and have them enlist the help of their friends to get the job done. Painting a community centre room or cleaning up an abandoned area of their neighbourhood will make a social impact, and they’ll be thrilled at the results.
Turn every passion into a volunteer opportunity
Children in this age group have established interests and know what they’re good at. Those who do well in school can tutor a friend or a younger child in their subject of choice. If your teen loves animals, have them volunteer at an animal shelter or join a local animal rights group.
Get them involved in a cause that excites them
Working in a homeless shelter distributing meals or getting involved with an environmental or human rights group are just some of the ways older teens can give back. Spreading the word about children in need of clean water, nutrition and education for child development organizations like the Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (www.ccfcanada.ca) can help educate your teens about the poor living conditions in developing countries and instill gratitude in their daily lives.