We all make the traditional New Year’s resolutions, but who sticks with them? With the start of 2019 upon us, MCCOY would like to encourage everyone, especially young people, to commit to service and volunteerism this year – and follow through!
“It is incredibly important for youth to learn about service so that they can begin the valuable work to develop 21st-century skills such as collaboration, empathy and understanding, self-efficacy, critical thinking, understanding bias and stereotype, public speaking, communication and marketing, and project management,” said Derrin Slack, CEO of ProAct Indy, a local organization dedicated to serving at-risk youth by teaching them to “become the givers and creators of service in their schools and neighborhoods.”
According to Slack, ProAct Indy “deliberately utilizes social justice platforms as the driving force to help marginalized urban youth experience a social change orientation, work to redistribute power, and build authentic relationships with their community.” He says that that this approach helps youth “learn how to address social issues at their root causes while simultaneously developing character, building relationships, and learning valuable skills.”
The Joseph Maley Foundation, an organization that serves children of all abilities through a variety of adaptive programs, emphasizes service learning through curriculum and activities. The foundation involves junior board members in much of their work. According to Courtney Basso, events and communications manager, these young volunteers have learned communication and leadership skills, built relationships, and learned about nonprofit work. She believes that these experiences that can serve the teens well in college and future employment.
“Service is a two-way street,” said Basso. “Volunteers are providing invaluable hours to a community in need and, in return, are elevating their own happiness and sense of accomplishment. When young people are engaging in service from an early age, they learn to incorporate volunteerism into their daily lives.”
Many youth have provided one-time service for organizations, but it can be more difficult for young people to find long-term volunteer positions that fit their school and activity schedules. Slack recommends that youth first identify issues that excite them.