Bond with your kids through volunteering

Volunteering with your kids offers many benefits, beyond the most important and obvious one of helping others. Did you know that kids who volunteer are more engaged in school? Or that it helps your teens land their first job or get into the college they desire? It also helps kids develop skills that make them more ready to tackle what life brings their way. Give your kids a boost—and your family a chance to bond—by exploring a volunteer opportunity today.

When youth volunteer they are more likely to be engaged in school and graduate. A recent survey of at-risk students who participated in service-learning projects at their school showed that 82 percent claimed their view of school improved because of the service-learning project, and 77 percent said the projects motivated them to work harder in school. At Poudre Schools, service learning “engages students in meaningful service.”

Getting into college and landing a good job can be a challenge for young adults today. Of course, grades and test scores are looked at first but extra-curricular activities and community involvement gives an application a second look with something unique to consider Volunteering helps kids stand out, and just might give a reviewer a reason to connect due to similar interests.

In addition, volunteering teaches important life skills. It not only teaches kids how to get along with others and to navigate differences in beliefs, culture and appearances but it also teaches practical life skills like time management and balancing commitments.

Volunteering together as a family or as a parent-daughter/son team strengthens bonds and creates those teachable moments where kids can ask meaningful questions and parents get a chance to answer them. It also helps expose your kids to different ways of living and being in this world, strengthening their empathy skills.

There are tons of volunteer opportunities for youth and families in northern Colorado all year long. Choose any topic from animals and the environment, arts and culture, health and wellness to hunger and homelessness. Letting your child pick among three options that work for you will help keep them motivated. Once you pick a project, explain to your child the good you are doing and how it helps someone, or helps the community be a better place to live.

A great resource is United Way (uwaylc.org), which serves as a clearinghouse for human service agencies needing volunteers. Click on the Get Involved button and select volunteer to search a variety of opportunities, including serving as a foster parent for dogs or cats for the humane society, sorting books at the library, and helping with programs at the housing authority, homeless shelters, kids with special needs and more.  Also, check out volunteer opportunities at Volunteers of America (voacolorado.org/gethelp-northernco).

Young kids can do fun runs for a cause, visit the elderly in nursing homes bearing cards and hugs, and help you deliver meals to the homebound, to name a few. Likely, there’s an opportunity to volunteer right in your own neighborhood, including walking an elderly neighbor’s dog or shoveling their walk, or picking up trash at the local park.

Doing for others makes kids and adults feel good about themselves, other people, and their community—and it helps create a good habit for a lifetime.