The Importance of Volunteerism In Youth Development
At a 2010 commemoration of International Youth Day under the theme “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, "Let us acknowledge and celebrate what youth can do to build a safer, more just world. Let us strengthen our efforts to include young people in policies, programmes and decision-making processes that benefit their futures and ours." — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
A powerful statement, but why the need to acknowledge youth? I dear ask why not? Youth, today, have been more vocal about what our needs and wants are, indicating opportunities for development while showing the gaps that exists, volunteerism is one vehicle that supports youth and youth development.
Why is volunteerism important in youth development? Because volunteering helps the gaining of new experiences and insights; it fosters opportunities for individuals to get involved with new things and grow practical, social, academic, technical and professional skills among many others. Skills that at most times can’t be offered through a classroom environment. 2015 Trinbagonian Chevening Scholar, Ms. Teocah Arieal Anika Dove in an interview with a Trinidad and Tobago daily newspaper expressed her belief of volunteerism and its capacity, "I would like my generation to know that while work for monetary gains is a good incentive, volunteering adds a wealth of knowledge and experience to your life which will last your lifetime, beyond finances earned."
Another reason for the importance of volunteerism in youth development is that it creates and builds relationships, at any age volunteer work helps express who you are as a person, while leveraging on networking and community connections. Volunteering offers you the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people from many walks of life, the exchanging and hosting of cultures, experiences. Jamaica Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen speaking at the 2017 Governor-General's Achievement Awards expressed that, “Volunteering is a rewarding experience, and through this act, it is my hope that others will replicate your experience to energize their communities. Volunteering builds individual character, encourages good citizens and provides opportunities to gain new skills and talents. It is also pivotal in establishing values and promoting trust,” these skills are all essential in the development of young people, particularly in our Caribbean diaspora.
Youth development in any landscape has it challenges and successes, the Caribbean is no exception; volunteerism does play a key role in charting the course of youth development and understanding at its core the engine room of a country, the young people. For me volunteerism is part of my passion and purpose. In my reality, volunteerism is pure and comes from a good place, it’s a good vybe! and is shared. On a more complexed scale volunteering to me means, being the change for our tomorrow and knowing together we can do so much more!
Jiselle O. Granderson