Encouraging a teen to volunteer in her community has lasting rewards, including increased self-efficacy, a sense of belonging and the satisfaction your teen will have when she realizes she's made a difference in someone's life, says writer Christy Monroe with Volunteer Maine, an agency partnered with the Maine Commission for Community Service to support statewide volunteer programs. Volunteering also helps teens find potential career paths, expands their minds and looks good on college and job applications, according to the KidsHealth website.
One of the most common ways that teens help in their communities is through community service programs. Teens often volunteer at churches, soup kitchens and parks. Teens can also visit the elderly in nursing homes to provide companionship to people who might not have been visited by family or friends in a while. Organizations differ on their rules and guidelines for teens who would like to volunteer, so check with them first to find out the criteria for teens to volunteer.
Teens don't have to join formal organizations to help their communities. One initiative that kids can take is to get out into their neighborhoods and help clean them up. Teens can help beautify their neighborhood by picking up trash, planting flowers or starting a community garden. Teens can also start recycling projects, and encourage their neighbors to participate in efforts to clean up the environment and live a more sustainable lifestyle. Encouraging teens to start their own community service campaign offers leadership skills while allowing them to discover what issues matter most to them.
For teens who are interested in politics, volunteering for a local or national political campaign is a practical way to learn about candidates and the political process. This also helps teens find their own political voice, and might even spark interest in politics as a career path. Teens can canvass neighborhoods to inform others about specific candidates and their political platforms, or they can reach out to their neighbors over the phone. Volunteering for a political campaign teaches teens how politics affect people's lives and society at large.
Teens who want to help in their communities can volunteer their intellectual capabilities by tutoring others. They can participate in peer tutoring at their school, or offer their services at a local library. Teens can also reach out to members of their community whose first language isn't English, and teach them the fundamentals of the language -- and they might learn a new language in the process. Tutoring services are often provided by companies or private tutors who charge for their services, so members of your teen's community will be especially grateful to receive free tutoring.