As the summer officially starts we are also approaching the closing months of what the United Nations (UN) officially declared as the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. Young leaders from around the globe have taken the past year as an opportunity to express their desire to be heard and their willingness to be active members of their communities. These efforts will not cease because classes are over or its summer time. On the contrary, children and young adults are volunteering abroad, aiding those affected by natural disaster, or participating in local community service programs throughout the summer.
In Costa Rica eight international students are rebuilding local schools as part of a civic engagement program called Global Volunteers. This is a private non-profit organization engaging volunteers in micro-economic and human development projects worldwide. As part of this program, eight students are using social media to record their efforts through blog posts and photo galleries.
In the Philippines a record number of 1,600 youth volunteers answered Habitat for Humanity Philippines‘ call to participate in their ‘1K for 1 Day’ program. A diverse group of students coming from international schools, universities, and local entities built the foundation of 80 houses in one day. Ricky Jacinto, HFH Philippines’ CEO, said: “It’s never too early or too late for nation-building. It’s time we (adults) learn from them”, when referring to the youth volunteers.
On a larger scale, students from all over the world are using their knowledge and expertise to improve their communities. In Mexico, for example, more than 400 education majors are being trained to become ‘Community Tutors’. With the support of local government agencies, these future educators will be tutoring more than 1,000 children in preschool, primary and secondary schools who are in risk of failing the school year.
The United States has also made a pledge to serve the country and communities this summer as part of the ‘United We Serve’ project. President Obama asked volunteers to develop their own projects and lay a foundation for growth. Recognizing that at least 55% of youth volunteer in the USA, this summer they are cleaning the streets, building green areas and park trails, or raising funds for those in need.
ICP also supports Summer of Service (SOS) projects engaging students in service-learning projects during the summer months. Check out the findings on participant outcomes for the 2010 Summer of Service pilots here. Additional resources for Summer of Service initiatives are available on the SOS Resource Center. A study conduct by the Corporation for National & Community Service concluded that youth who volunteer are more likely to do better in their academic development and influence other family members to engage in similar activities. These young inspiring individuals are having a positive, sustainable impact in their communities, and gaining valuable skills to incorporate in their transition to adulthood.
If you are looking for volunteer opportunities this summer here are some options: