Adults these days have a curious notion that kids are not capable of doing much on their own. From our increasingly distorted perspective, kidnappers lurk around each corner, and every activity that children engage in, from bobbing for apples to running on a playground, pose a potential threat to their safety and well-being.
That's why we love to hear about young people taking initiative, whether by walking to school all by themselves or starting a service project. In his latest Huffington Post piece, our CEO and co-founder Darell Hammond shares amazing stories about youth who are taking it upon themselves to make a difference. He asserts:
My organization advocates for a child's right to play, but we also believe in the many benefits of service. Youth who volunteer are less likely to engage in risky behavior, feel more connected to their communities, and tend to perform better in school. And, like play, service has been shown to increase young people's self-esteem; aid in their psychological, social, and cognitive development; and teach them empathy.
Perhaps what's more important is that young people like volunteering. In a culture of over-protective parents who barely trust children to tie their own shoes, service can help kids feel both independent and useful. Youth who volunteer strongly agree with statements such as, "I would like to help make the world a better place," and "It's important to do things for others." In 2004, only 5% of students surveyed became involved with volunteering through a school requirement.
Read more about young people and service here.