This blog is written by Tanealya Hueth, a member of the National Youth Activation Committee, and an acvtive volunteer in her community in Montana. Tanealya shares some insigtht on how to avoid becoming detached from quality work during the summer. Just because school is out, doesn’t mean we have to be!
School is out and summer vacation has begun. This does not mean as a youth leader the impact that you have has to stop. Last summer, I had the opportunity to go to Greece and attend the National Youth Activation Summit. At this conference, we made an impact on others by discussions and workshops that helped each of us grow and become better leaders.
So the question is, “What can you do during summer vacation, as a youth leader, to make an impact?” Youth volunteering, being a mentor, helping in the community, or even getting others involved can make an impact. It is easy to see the impact of your actions thought these activities and this is even a fun way to spend your summer.
Where can you volunteer? First look for places to Volunteer in your community. Lots of places are looking for volunteers. Try your local Special Olympics office, youth camps, church, community garden, food banks, or local senior citizen centers. Also, you can look for places where you have an opportunity to work with young people with or without disabilities. As a leader you make an impact on others by being a role model or getting others involved.
Being a mentor is a great way to make an impact. Some mentoring programs are as easy as just being a friend to a child who needs one. Statistics show that kids who are mentored succeed greatly. Some of those statics are:
- 58% improved their school performance
- 65% showed higher levels of self-confidence
- 55% had a better attitude toward others and school
Start a website for teens by teens. Offer information and support for teens. Ask a local community service to host it for you. Have a list of community services you can offer as referrals to kids in trouble or who are just lonely and need something to do during the summer. Put up helpful and upbeat articles of interest to other teens. Provide quizzes and puzzles. Make it a place other teens will want to come to for positive, encouraging, and supportive information and resources.
Do you love outdoor sports? Volunteer to coach your local Special Olympics team or play in a Unified Sports league. Or, do a little research and see if you have an Outdoor Education Center or Park Program in your area. Often these Centers offer programs for people with special needs and they nearly always need volunteers to help. What could be better than helping someone experience the joy of playing a sport.
Another option is to find out if there is a wheelchair sports program in your community. There are a lot of fine athletes who are confined to wheelchairs, still active and very competitive. Besides basketball, some wheelchair sports groups play rugby, hockey, tennis and softball. Get some friends together and challenge them to a game. You might be surprised who wins!
Bring some joy to a senior citizens facility. Not all senior citizens facilities are the same. They vary from having active seniors to bed-ridden individuals. But everybody has the same need – to know someone else cares. Why not throw a party for some folks in such a facility? It can be as simple as just bringing in some balloons and visiting with people (don’t worry about what to say – most of them will be happy to do the talking!). Or it can be as elaborate as performing a “show” for them. Gather some of your Special Olympics friends who can play music, sing, do card tricks, read poetry or tell stories – put it all together and make some people happy! They’ll talk about it for weeks.
If you or someone you know has a summer birthday, throw a birthday party but instead of gifts ask people to make a contribution to Special Olympics or another cause. Better yet, gather friends with birthdays in the same month and see how much you can raise!
These are just a few of the many ways that you canmake an impact as a youth leader during your summer vacation. Look around your community and talk to others about ways to volunteer. Don’t forget to get your friends involved. Be a role model and have fun with whatever you decide to do.
“If you have heart and determination in your life, then nothing can get in the way of your dreams!” ~Author Unknown