Tennessee earned its nickname as ‘The Volunteer State’ during the War of 1812 when thousands of individuals from the region to fight in various battles. This sense of civic duty and volunteering is proudly carried on to this day. In a recent article, KidCentralTN, an organization that works with families throughout the state, highlights how volunteering can benefit both individuals and their communities.
Children and adolescents who volunteer, often become great leaders, are confident and empathetic. Volunteering can help youth shape their career and life goals by learning to define their own unique understanding of the greater good. Consider these positive impacts of volunteering;
Building empathy – It can be a challenge for parents and adults to try to “teach” compassion. Volunteering helps youth understand how others live. Thinking about others puts their own challenges in perspective. Kids are more likely to feel empathy for people whose experiences they can relate to. The more parents and adults can personalize stories of hardship, the more compassionately kids will respond.
Develops leadership skills – Health experts believe group volunteering allows individuals to discover their natural leadership abilities. For kids, group volunteering outside of a classroom lessens the impact that age differences, gender assumptions and social hierarchies have on their ability to find their own voice to lead.
It makes you happy and healthy – A recent study shows a connection between volunteering and a sense of personal satisfaction, wellbeing and happiness. Volunteering is good for your mind and body for these reasons;
· Counteracts anger, stress and anxiety
· Increases self-confidence
· Provides a sense of purpose
· Combats Depression
· Helps you to stay physically healthy
Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee is passionate about volunteering. In May, Lee launched Tennessee Serves, an initiative designed to encourage Tennesseans to serve one another and volunteer in their communities. As part of the kickoff to Lee’s initiative, the First Lady’s Office launched its first annual Tennessee Kids Serve Summer Challenge. Rising kindergarten through sixth-grade students were tasked with completing three to five service projects from eight categories including serving the elderly, food insecure and first responders. In its first year, Tennessee children from across the state completed 1,400 service hours as a part of the challenge. Learn more about where and how to serve with your family here.
Consider some of these volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood;
· Libraries and senior centers
· Community theaters and museums
· Local animal shelters, rescue organizations, wildlife centers
· Churches, synagogues, mosques
· National and state parks
For more information on KidCentralTN.com visit the website here.