It’s not just about showing up for the project! With the development of new technology, new learning experiences, and different avenues for participation throughout our communities, young people have assumed, been assigned, and have co-created new roles for youth volunteers. Youth volunteers today have so many others ways they can contribute to our communities. Check out some of these exciting new roles!
Youth as Facilitators – Knowledge comes from study, experience, and reflection. Engaging young people as teachers helps reinforce their commitment to learning and the subject they are teaching; it also engages both young and older learners in exciting ways.
Youth as Researchers – Identifying issues, surveying interests, analyzing findings, and developing projects in response are all powerful avenues for youth volunteers.
Youth as Planners – Planning includes program design, event planning, curriculum development, and hiring staff. Youth planning activities can lend validity, creativity, and applicability to abstract concepts and broad outcomes.
Youth as Organizers – Community organizing happens when leaders bring together everyone in a community in a role that fosters social change. Youth community organizers focus on issues that affect themselves and their communities; they rally their peers, families, and community members for action.
Youth as Decision-Makers – Making rules in classrooms is not the only way to engage young people in decision-making. Committees, board membership, and other forms of representation and leadership reinforce the significance of youth volunteers throughout communities.
Youth as Advocates – When young people stand for their beliefs and understand the impact of their voices, they can represent their families and communities with pride, courage, and ability.
Youth as Evaluators – Assessing and evaluating the effects of programs, classes, activities, and projects can promote youth volunteerism in powerful ways. Young people can learn that their opinions are important, and their experiences are valid indicators of success.
Youth as Specialists – Envisioning roles for youth to teach youth is relatively easy; seeing new roles for youth to teach adults is more challenging. Youth specialists bring expert knowledge about particular subjects to programs and organizations, enriching everyone’s ability to be more effective.