Last week a Kids’ Extravaganza was held at the Nyarutarama-based Christian Life Assembly (CLA), bringing together over 100 children, who for one week prepared to perform before their parents and guardians for three services on Sunday, July 24. To put together the children’s act, the church relied on volunteers, mainly young people or teens who volunteered to take part in the preparation of the extravaganza, including teaching and training the little ones or just looking over them as they rehearsed. To pull it off, the volunteering youth, who were recognised in all three services, worked meticulously together to ensure that the young ones are well coordinated and prepared to perform before the congregation. Volunteering refers to someone offering to do something to contribute towards a certain cause, often without having been asked to do so or without expecting payment. With school going teens enjoying their holidays this month through September, regardless of which system they study in, volunteering remains a very important practice for them, not just to keep them busy in holidays, but also to help them shape their future careers early on in life. Volunteering is different from internship even though the purpose could be the same. But generally, volunteering can be short term or long term, depending on the area you are involved in and it can be more powerful and impactful than the former. Internship on the other hand is aimed at helping one to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification and may not necessarily have an impact on society. Why volunteer? Volunteering is very important because it helps teenagers to expand their minds and learn new skills such as being a team player and working towards a certain goal. It helps them to discover what they are good at and get career ideas for the future. By volunteering early on, teenagers learn how to be reliable and responsible and they are also able to learn how to work with people of different backgrounds and abilities. While volunteering, your teenage child will be able to make new friends, particularly those they share common interests and values and can also meet adults who become good mentors and friends. Volunteering is also important for your teen to build experience. If they volunteered somewhere and it is on record, let’s say they have a certificate, it can be included in the college or job application. People who make a decision to admit or hire will know that your teenage child believes in a certain cause, can be reliable and responsible and that alone can inform the decision to be made. The feel-good factor, community belonging Volunteering is key in giving your teenage child a sense of fulfilment and will bring the feel-good factor, knowing that they contributed to something to change things in their societies for the better. While they could use their teen years to party and enjoy life, by volunteering they are impacting the society and it makes them feel proud. Volunteering can keep them focused on doing meaningful things and avoid distractions. According to experts, volunteering provides young people with a sense of purpose and gives them new meaning to life. Chances are, volunteering teens are less likely to be involved in alcoholism or drug abuse simply because of what they are focussed on. In an era where teenagers are more hooked to their gadgets than real people, volunteering is important when it comes to giving them a sense of community belonging. Volunteering can help teens to feel connected to those they are working to help or support in the community such as church or social protection groups. This experience makes them want to get involved even more with other aspects of their community, which goes back to responsibility earlier mentioned. Through volunteering at the local level, they can even join politics, youth councils or advocacy groups that play a positive role in society. Last but not least, your teenage child will greatly improve their social skills if they get involved in voluntary work. Apart from meeting new friends and mentors as mentioned earlier, their social skills will be sharpened. By spending a lot of time working with others and using social skills, like active listening and relationship management, they will have the opportunity to develop their future personal and business relationships. It will also help them boost their self-esteem and self-confidence. Doing something they feel worthwhile and valuable for their community will give them a sense of accomplishment that may help them feel more fulfilled about their life and any future goals. These are valuable skills they can earn this holiday. Plan ahead and find that place for them to volunteer this holiday and get them out of their comfort zone.