Youth are making a difference in the City of Nanaimo one volunteer hour at a time.
Young adults are more likely to volunteer compared to their older colleagues, with a rate of 58 per cent and an average of 130 hours, according to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Social Trends April 2012 report.
Some school districts require students to complete community service as a prerequisite for graduation. However, only seven per cent of volunteers aged 15 and older reported that they had performed this type of required community service in 2010.
However, volunteers 65 and older, who have a lower rate of 36 per cent, dedicate more time with an average of 223 hours.
“It’s a win, win for everyone,” said Stacey Brown, youth leadership coordinator for the City of Nanaimo, about youth volunteerism.
She said organizers get eager volunteers to help out during events and youth gain valuable skills and positive self-esteem building opportunities.
“I’ve seen it having a very positive impact on the volunteers as well as the people the volunteers work with,” she said.
This year 110 youth were enrolled in the QUEST and Leaders in Training program offered through parks, recreation and culture. The numbers have remained about the same the past two years, but over the past 10 years there was a steady increase, said Brown.
This year, some youth dedicated more than 350 hours of volunteer time and others are in the 200-300 hour range.
“The youth I’ve worked with this summer is absolutely amazing, their dedication is outstanding,” said Brown. “They work with people in the community and give back to their community.”
Risa Convey, program coordinator for the Nanaimo branch of Youth Volunteer Corps, said sometimes organizations are hesitant to give responsibilities to teens because it is their first time working in a professional environment. However, the experience helps teens gain valuable skills they can use to find employment.
Youth Volunteer Corps operates out of Volunteer Nanaimo. This year, 11 youth registered in the program, with an average of 11-18 youth the past few years.
The corps doesn’t require a minimum commitment of time and is flexible to allow youth the opportunity to choose their own times, said Convey.
Youth volunteers face the same barriers to dedicating more of their time as other volunteers, which include not enough time, the inability to make a long-term commitment, gave too much time already and did not know how to become involved.